What to do in South Mountains State Park

Located east of Pisgah National Forest and just south of Morganton, South Mountains State Park is an explorers delight. There are miles of hiking trail and fishing streams to which one may escape. Two of the park's highlights are High Shoals Waterfall and Chestnut Knob which is the 2nd highest point in the park offering a panoramic view for more than 60 miles.

Park Hours: November-February 8:00 am - 6:00 pm; March and October 8:00 am - 7:00 pm; April, May and September 8:00 am - 8 pm; June-August 8:00 am - 9 pm. Office hours: 8:00 am - 12 pm Monday through Friday. Gates will remain locked, except in emergency situations, when the park is not in operation. Please plan accordingly. The park is closed Christmas Day.

Recreation
South Mountains State Park is a beautiful park offering rugged hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails, crystal clear waters that plunge 80 feet, primitive camping for backpackers and terrific trout fishing streams.

There are two picnic areas to choose from at South Mountains. The first is Jacob's Fork picnic area which is adjacent to the parking lot. It offers 12 tables, nine grills and restrooms and is accessible to persons with disabilities. The Shinny Creek picnic area is less than a half-mile from the parking area. Four tables, three grills and a pit toilet are provided.
There is one picnic shelter available near the park office with electricity and running water. Reservations for the facility are $75.00.

Pack in group camping is available, with water from the stream (boil water or use tablets) and pit toilets at the campsites. Firewood is also available. There are 11 primitive campsites that are accessible by car. They contain tables, fire rings and firewood. There is one site for pack-in equestrian use. The site has water from the stream, fire circles, pit toilets and slip stalls for horses. (Water is not drinkable unless you boil and/or use tablets). Call the park office for more information.

Two miles of the Jacob's Fork River is stocked and labeled as a hatchery supported catch and release stream. There are also 12 miles of wild trout waters included in Jacob's Fork and Shinny Creek. Trout fishing requires a special license and all regulations of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission must be obeyed.

Special nature programs such as slide shows and nature hikes are available upon request. Most Sundays during the months of May through August are scheduled with special events. Environmental Educational Learning Experience (EELE)–Wild, Wonderful Water. Grades: 4, 5, 6 and 7. Introduces students to stream and watershed ecology, focusing on the Jacob's Fork River. Major concepts covered include: aquatic life, water quality, indicator species, biotic index, watershed and stewardship.

Restrooms and the Jacob's Fork picnic area are accessible, but pathways, campsites and other picnic areas and trails are not accessible. Hemlock Nature Trail is a 1.0 mile self-guided nature trail, which is wheelchair accessible .

Location
South Mountains State Park is located in southwestern Burke County, 18 miles south of Morganton. From I-40 take NC 18 to SR 1913. From SR 1913 turn left onto Old NC 18. Travel down Old NC 18 to SR 1901. The park is off of SR 1901 on SR 1904.

Climate
North Carolina has a temperate climate with mild winters and long fall and spring months. Summers can be hot and humid, especially in the piedmont and coastal plain region, which don't get relief from coastal breezes or higher elevations. The mountains tend to be substantially cooler and receive some winter snow.

In the Piedmont Region, winter daytime temperatures normally range from the upper 30's to the upper 40s. Summer daytime temperatures range from the high 70's to the low 90's. The state has a fairly wet climate with an average precipitation for this area averaging 44-52 inches (112-132 centimeters).

Address
3001 South Mountains State Park Avenue
Connelly Springs, NC 28612

Phone: 828-433-4772

Fax: 828-433-4778

Email: southmountains@hci.net
  • South Mountains State Park Travel Q&A

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