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Sawtooth Campground via Chestnut Knob Trail

Connelly Springs, North Carolina

based on 1 reviews



6.18 miles

Elevation Gain

1299 ft

Route Type



Added by Andrew Dunn

If you're in the Charlotte area, South Mountains State Park and Sawtooth Campground offer you a quick remote getaway that offers stellar views. This trip is accessible to the beginning backpacker, but you can make the trip as challenging as you'd like.

This 6.2-mile total trip will take you through the highlights of South Mountains State Park with an overnight stay in one of the drier campsites. 

OPTIONAL: You can get a warm-up in by starting with a 2.5-mile loop to High Shoal Falls that you can do without packs before picking up with a 3-mile each way out and back. 

Begin by parking at the large parking area near the Hemlock Nature Center. You'll leave your car here the whole trip (it's safe).

Start with a warm-up hike around the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail. You won't need to bring your gear. This quick hike will take you by a very pleasant 80-foot waterfall. You'll likely encounter a lot of other people on this path. Total elevation gain: 557 feet.

You'll finish back at the Hemlock parking area. Pick up your gear; you're about to go backpacking.

Take the Chestnut Knob Trail north from the parking area. Before long, you'll see a short spur for an overlook. If the weather is clear, you'll have a great view of the High Shoals Falls from afar. Take a quick rest -- things are about to get more difficult.

The trail goes markedly uphill as you approach the end of the trail. When you get there, you'll see another spur that takes you to Chestnut Knob. This is the highlight of the trip, so don't miss it.

You'll start to feel you've lost your way right before you reach the rock outcropping that offers a tremendous view of the Jacob Fork Gorge.

Backtrack to the intersection and head to the Sawtooth Campsites. There are several scattered around a clearing in the forest, complete with fire pit and a few have a picnic table.

Take note: The water source here is a decent little walk, so if you don't want to go back and forth, you'll want a large container to carry it.

You can reverse this in the morning for a (much easier) hike back to your car. You can also add as many more miles as you want by looping around the Horseridge Trail, the Lower CCC Trail and the Raven Rock Trail. 

See map here

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Easy Parking

Sawtooth Campground via Chestnut Knob Trail Reviews

We started our trip with a hike to High shoals falls. We did the loop which was about 2.7 miles round trip. We headed back to the car, gathered our gear and hit the trail. We decided to start at the Little River trail from the Hemlock Nature Trail parking lot, then took the Upper CCC trail to Sawtooth Trail which led us to the Sawtooth campsite. This ended up being about 4 miles total. **Watch out for rattlesnakes, we came across one on the trail and thankfully he gave us by a warning or we would have walked right over him.** When we arrived it opened up to a beautiful field of wildflowers! There are 3 campsites and we were the only ones there that night. The next morning we packed up and decided to head to the Chestnut Knob overlook before heading back down on the Chestnut Knob trail. Don’t skip the overlook! The trip back to the parking lot was about 3.6 miles.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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