Normally I wouldíve spent last Saturday recovering.After all, Saucony and I had backpacked with Bob across the Crest of the Black Mountain Range on Thursday and Friday.That trip had covered 18 miles while gaining 6500í of elevation.However, my wife was competing in a triathlon Saturday morning in Kings Mountain, and she wanted me to come along so I could drive her home.Unfortunately, the Kings Mountain triathlon isnít spectator friendly, and I didnít want to spend the whole morning waiting around.Originally I had planned to take the dog hiking somewhere nearby.Friday night, I confessed to Christy that I didnít want to go hiking.Christy was shocked.Iím sure she never thought sheíd hear me say those words!


I ended up hiking anyway.Iím still training for our trip to Wyoming, and I wanted to see how I felt after two tough days on the trail.Plus, I wanted to see how the dog would do.Initially I thought about hiking at the Kings Mountain Battlefield, but I couldnít find any information on the park website regarding pets.So, I decided to head to Crowders Mountain.Normally I avoid Crowded Mountain in the summer, but I figured an early start would help me beat the heat and the crowds.


Unfortunately the park doesnít open until 8am.I dropped Christy off in Kings Mountain, and killed some time eating breakfast at a diner downtown.I reached the parking area on the east side of the park exactly at 8.Surprisingly, there were two other cars already there.


Saucony and I started our hike on the Backside Trail, which is actually a gravel road.The road eventually ends at a long, steep staircase that provides access to the mountain.This ďtrailísĒ only redeeming quality is views of the cliff faces along Crowders north side.Unfortunately, even those views are marred by an ugly fence and dozens of signs imploring hikers to stay on the trail.


I reached the summit around 8:30 and had the whole thing to myself.Itís the first time Iíve been there without a crowd.Although it was a sunny day, thick haze obscured the Charlotte skyline from sight.At least there was a nice breeze up there.I took a break anyway though, mainly to give Saucony water.She drank nearly an entire quart!


From there we climbed to the actual summit, which hosts some sort of telecommunications tower.From there, we headed down the parks most interesting path.We followed the Rocktop Trail, which clings to a narrow, rocky ridge.A bit of mild scrambling is required, and there are several nice bonus views along the way.


Eventually the fun ended at the road that bisects the park.At this point, I decided to add a bit to the hike.Saucony had already finished all of the extra water Iíd brought for her, so we crossed the road on the trail leading to park headquarters.After maybe a Ĺ mile we reached a bridge over a tiny stream.Actually, it was more like a mud hole, but Saucony didnít care.I let her off the leash, and she jumped right in.I let her muck around in the mud for awhile before we headed back the way we came.


We crossed the road again, and headed back towards the car on the Crowders Trail.This path wanders through the woods, curving around the west ridge of Crowders Mountain.Some time later, we reached the junction with the Backside Trail that weíd passed earlier.


It was still early, so I threw Saucony a curveball.She started to head down the road towards the car, but I had something else in mind Ė summiting twice.Saucony was not at all amused as we headed back up the road towards the peak.Going up the stairs a second time was a grind, as my legs were pretty dead from the previous day.At the top, there were several groups of people enjoying the hazy view.This time, I didnít stop.Instead, we continued over to the Tower Trail, which is also a gravel road.Unlike the Backside Trail, the Tower Trail has no redeeming qualities.A boring, 2-mile descent ensued.Saucony was dragging a bit, no doubt knowing that we couldíve been back at the car an hour ago.


I was almost at the trailhead when I encountered a group of about 25 Asians heading up the mountain.This was a bit startling, as I hadnít really seen that many people that morning.The most interesting thing about the group was the two young men at the back of the line toting a monster cooler.The cooler was so big, it should probably be referred to as an ice chest.What did they have in there?Jimmy Hoffa?I guess they were planning quite a picnic up on Crowders, but I canít imagine carrying a cooler that big all the way up there.Thatís one good thing about hiking at Crowders Ė you never know what you might see!


I reached the car at noon and headed back to Kings Mountain to pick up Christy.She had struggled a bit during the race, mainly because of the heat and an ongoing sinus infection.We headed home with one intention on our minds Ė spending the remainder of the weekend resting.

Back to North Carolina's Foothills and Piedmont

Back to North Carolina

Back to Hiking and Backpacking Trip Reports


Please remember to Leave No Trace!