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North Carolina

North Carolina State Parks

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USA Parks
North Carolina
Mountains - Western Region
South Mountains State Park
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South Mountains State Park © pmuellr / CC BY 2.0
South Mountains State Park © pmuellr / CC BY 2.0
South Mountains State Park © johnmac19 / CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
South Mtn
South Mountains State Park © w:en:Russiancarolinanet (talk | contribs) / CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons
South Mountain State Park, North Carolina. Waterfall.
South Mountains State Park © johnmac19 / CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
South Mtn
South Mountains State Park © johnmac19 / CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
South Mtn
South Mountains State Park © Wncoutdoors / CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
High Shoals Falls on Jacob Fork, South Mountains State Park, NC.
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3001 South Mountain Park
Connelly Springs, North Carolina   28612
(lat:35.6116 lon:-81.683) map location

Phone: 828-433-4772
One of the state's most rugged areas, South Mountains State Park features elevations to 3,000 feet, an 80-foot waterfall, mountain streams and more than 40 miles of trails for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers. A visitor center offers museum-quality exhibits on the cultural and natural history of the South Mountains.

While most of the high points average approximately 2,000 feet in elevation, Buzzard's Roost towers some 3,000 feet above the surrounding landscape. Elevations within the park itself range from less than 1,200 feet at points along Jacob's Fork River to 3,000 feet on Buzzard's Roost along the park's western boundary.

Water winding through the park to the Catawba River cuts deep into the terrain, forming rugged and steep slopes. The most spectacular feature in the park is High Shoals Falls on Jacob's Fork River. Here, a torrent of water drops 80 feet over a cliff face of bare rock. In addition, Chestnut Knob offers tranquility and a magnificent view of surrounding peaks and ridges.

Nature of the Area
Observe different forest types in the beautiful woodlands of South Mountains State Park, including pure conifer, mixed conifer, hardwood and climax hardwood forests. This relatively undeveloped area is a splendid example of ecologies from the upper piedmont to the mountains. Oak, hickory and a variety of pines are the predominant species in the park.

Wildlife is abundant in the forests of South Mountains, though many of the animals go unseen by the casual visitor. Salamanders, frogs and toads reside in the moist areas of the park. Common reptiles include eastern fence lizards, skinks and a variety of small snakes. Though most of the snakes in the park are harmless and rarely encountered, the venomous copperhead and timber rattlesnake are present, and hikers should exercise caution.

History of the Area
The South Mountains, carved out of the Blue Ridge by erosion, are a broad belt of peaks and knobs rising abruptly from a deep valley. These steep, rugged mountains encompass 100,000 acres in Burke, Cleveland and Rutherford counties.

The Catawba Valley and the gaps across the mountain ranges to the west were once major travel routes. The South Mountains served as a buffer zone between the Cherokee and the Catawba Indians, and the first European settlers in the area farmed the fertile land along the Catawba River.

In 1828, gold was discovered at Brindle Creek. Legend holds that gold flakes and grains were first discovered in the mud used to seal a log cabin. The ensuing gold rush attracted immigrants, mining companies and slave owners. Gold was mined into the early 20th century, but activity in the gold mines eventually declined.

Anglers can enjoy trout fishing in the park's clear, cool streams. The species include Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout.

The Jacob Fork River is a designated Public Mountain Trout Water area offering excellent fly-fishing opportunities for enthusiasts.

Fishing licenses are required to fish within the park boundaries which can be obtained from North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Catch-and-release regulations apply on certain sections of the river promoting sustainable angling practices.

Shinny Creek also offers decent spots for anglers with its abundant aquatic life including various types of trouts.

South Mountains State Park is located near Cherryville, Connellys Springs and Granite Falls

1. South Mountains State Park offers numerous picnic tables scattered throughout the park for visitors to enjoy.
2. There are two designated picnic areas with grills available on a first-come, first-served basis.
3. The Jacob Fork parking area has accessible restrooms near its large covered picnic shelter that can be reserved in advance.
4. Picnickers can also choose spots along the river or hiking trails for an impromptu meal amidst nature's beauty.
5. Visitors should pack their own food and drinks as there aren't any dining facilities within the park premises.

Biking enthusiasts can explore over 18 miles of challenging mountain biking trails. Be aware, these paths are rugged and steep.

The park's terrain is quite diverse with elevations ranging from 1,200 to 3,000 feet which adds an extra challenge for bikers.

Cyclists must stick to designated bike routes only; hiking-only trails should be avoided due to safety concerns.

Ensure you're well-prepared as the area has limited cell service making emergency calls difficult in case of accidents or breakdowns.

Always wear a helmet when cycling through this region - it's not just recommended but required by law here too!

Remember that weather conditions may affect trail accessibility so always check before setting off on your journey.

Be mindful about wildlife encounters while riding since snakes and other animals inhabit the forested areas around the tracks.
Birdwatchers can explore over 40 miles of trails, spotting species like warblers, hawks and woodpeckers. The park's varied habitats attract a wide range of birdlife throughout the year. Birding checklists are available to help identify different species encountered during your visit.

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