Crowders Mountain State Park (4-2-14)
Rising some 800'+ above the surrounding countryside the neighboring peaks of Crowder's Mountain (1,625') and King's Pinnacle (1,705') stand in abrupt contrast to the gently rolling piedmont which surrounds them. Remnants of a mountain building period which predates the Appalachians to their west, these peaks are comprised of an erosion resistant quartzite which has allowed them to retain a degree of prominence whereas surrounding peaks have long since worn away.
Located only 30 miles from North Carolina's largest city, Charlotte, this isn't a park for the lover of solitude. The slopes are often quite crowded and the views from the summits are littered with sub-divisions, factories, and highways. Even so it is a place deserved of it's popularity. The high rock-strewn ridges and towering cliffs are SO incredibly out-of-place in this flat urban landscape you can't help but enjoy your experience here. Designated in 1974 in response to a threat of mining on the mountain, Crowders Mountain State Park has thankfully been saved from inevitable development (minus the unsightly towers atop it which predate the park) and is now one of North Carolina's most visited parks.
My route this day would try to take in all the best the park has to offer including both Crowders Mountain and its cliffs as well as rugged summit of Kings Pinnacle. In all it would be about a 9-mile hike on what was the first truly warm day of spring. It was time to go out and enjoy the mountains-away-from-the-mountains...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.210642, -81.292661
Hike Length: 9.0 miles Hike Duration: 5:00
Trailhead Temp: 65'F
Min. Elevation: 770' Max. Elevation: 1,705'
Total Vertical Gain: 2,010' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 223'
Trails Used (blaze color/shape): Backside (orange circles), Crowder's (white diamonds), Pinnacle (orange circles), Rocktop (red circles), Tower (blue squares), Turnback (white triangles)