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Connelly Springs, North Carolina

Backpack to Sawtooth Campground in South Mountains SP

8.5 Miles Total - 1500 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Andrew Dunn

If you're in the Charlotte area, South Mountains State Park offers 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 8.5-mile total trip will take you through the highlights of South Mountains State Park with an overnight stay in one of the drier campsites. 

You'll start with a 2.7 mile loop that you can do sans 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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Tags

Camping
Backpacking
Hiking
Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Scenic
Waterfall

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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