This quiet, 6.5-mile loop through North Carolina South Mountain State Park rewards dayhikers and backpackers with several above-the-trees overlooks to surrounding mountains and distant falls.
Start heading west on the High Shoals Falls Loop trail through Canadian hemlocks and white pines for 0.2 mile before turning north onto the Chestnut Knob trail. The route then ascends up a south facing slope past forest recovering from beetle kill. At mile 0.8, check out an overlook of Jacob Fork River Gorge for a distant view High Shoals Falls. Back on the main route, the climbing continues.
About 2 miles in, take a left to head up to the Chestnut Knob overlook which boasts views of Ravens Rock to the southwest, and nearby Benn Knob. Autumn hikers are rewarded with a sublime sea of foliage from this spot. After inhaling the views, head back to the loop and start descending to the north. Turn right at the Sawtooth Trail intersection and continue on the dirt road. At mile 2.7, a spur trail leads to the Sawtooth campsites.
The trail then passes by a prescribed burn area, before crossing an old boundary line, which is evident as the forest composition changes. The trail ascends lightly, crossing a stream and soon thereafter meets the Upper CCC trail at mile 4. Take a right here and descend to the Little River Trail. Continue over a wooden bridge and enjoy views to the east, on the way back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Tim Johnson