Backpack to Sawtooth Campground in South Mountains SP

Rate this Adventure South Mountain State Park

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

Pack List

Standard camping gear applies, but make sure you bring the following as well:

  • Water filter
  • Rain fly
  • Base layer
  • Fire starter
  • Toilet paper
  • Stove/fuel
  • Trash bags
  • A good attitude
Show More
RT Distance 8.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 1500 Feet
Activities Camping, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating:  Rate this Adventure

Have you done this adventure? Leave a review!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Hiking the South Mountains' Jacob Fork

254 Saves

Hike to High Shoals Falls

359 Saves

Hike to the Summit of Shortoff Mountain

682 Saves