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Published in partnership with Arc’teryx.
When North Carolina’s Crowders Mountain State Park and South Carolina’s Kings Mountain State Park established a trail connection linking the parks in 2000, it created an epic, three-park circuit boasting over 33 miles of trails along the Piedmont Ridge. If tackling up to 25 miles in one weekend sounds tough, it is. But these hills have seen much more than a few weary weekend warriors; try colonial militia men who fought and won the pivotal Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780, a momentum-shifting victory in the Revolutionary War.
Friday: Crowders is a scant 45 minutes from Charlotte, so it’s easy enough to camp-in at home, if comfort is what you’re after. If you can’t wait the night, it’s just one mile from the park’s office to a family campground. Campers must register at the visitor center. (The parking lot is open until 9 p.m. March-April and 10 p.m. May-September)
Saturday: No matter which option you choose, rise early. The trail starts near the summit of Kings Pinnacle, which promises views of distant Charlotte to the east and the Appalachians to the west, and follows the ridge six miles to the South Carolina border. From there, it’s another 2.5 miles into Kings Mountain State Park. Press on and begin the 16-mile Kings Mountain loop, which begins by following a historic trace of colonial road to Kings Mountain National Military Park visitor center, where you can obtain a free permit before continuing another three miles to camp the night at Garner Creek, the only backcountry campsite in the park.
Sunday – Cross over to Kings Mountain State Park to hike the second half of the loop. The Parks advise leaving a full day, but having tackled almost half of the loop on Saturday, an early start should put you back at the terminus of the Ridgeline Trail in time for lunch. With another 8.7 miles ahead, it makes for a day of wall-to-wall backpacking.
Be Aware: Reserve campsites in advance. Space is limited at Garner Creek (occupancy 10-12).
What to Pack: Wicking sock liners, extra socks, blister kit.