The two peaks at Crowders Mountain State Park, each rising more than 900 feet from the trailhead, offer the toughest training opportunity within an hour of Charlotte. But when it’s time to really stretch your legs, the relatively new Ridgeline Trail, part of the ever growing Carolina Thread Trail, has them beat for sheer run-ability.
What Makes It Great
From Crowders Mountain SP, the Ridgeline Trail is accessed a little over a mile up the Kings Pinnacle Trail. Take a left at the junction and you’re immediately rolling along a rocky ridge, then dropping several hundred feet to the first road crossing.
The trail continues to wave and weave through forest and over hills, almost never completely flat but rarely steep for very long sections. Much of the trail is wide and smooth with ample opportunities to pick up the pace through a forest of the tall hardwoods protecting the path from direct sun.
At the 6.2 mile mark the trail connects with the Boulders Access area and crosses the state line. There’s a visitor center here with bathrooms and a water fountain.
Eventually the Ridgeline Trail tumbles its way into Kings Mountain State Park and links to the 16-mile loop there. When including all the trails inside Crowders Mountain State Park, some 50 miles of path are connected by Ridgeline.
Who is Going to Love It
The Ridgeline Trail doesn’t boast the same panoramic views found on other options at Crowders. But the rolling hills and well cared for trail bring all sorts of hikers and trail runners looking for extra miles or a slightly less aggressive option. Charlotte’s best trail runners commonly use the Ridgeline as part of their long run day at Crowders.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
At both ends the Ridgeline Trail is accessed via a link with another trail. At Crowders, park at the Main Ranger Station (called the Sparrow Springs Access) and walk a little over a mile up the Pinnacle Trail. At Kings Mountain State Park start at the day use area, turning right on the main hiking loop and Ridgeline will be on your right in a half mile. Water and bathrooms are available at both state parks and in the middle, at the Boulders Access Area. Dogs are allowed on the trail but should be on a leash as rangers have been known to write tickets to owners of free-ranging pups.