Explore the most popular trail running trails in Crowders Mountain State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
4 days ago

Tip: Don’t go out and back! Make an adventure out of this trail and tour nearly all of Crowder’s Mountain in a single day! Park at Sparrow Springs Park Office (Trail Head on AllTrails for Pinnacle Trail). Grab a map and follow along. I will include a photo of the route:

1). Hike Crowder’s Trail to Rocktop Trail to reach the overlook (Towers) on Crowder Mountain. Rocktop is the most technical trail in the park - plan on going slow over the rock. Views are great and it’s a less trafficked route. (2.5 miles)

2). From the Crowders Summit, head back down via the short section of Backside Trail (which is a railroad tie and gravel stair path) and then hop on Crowders Trail to loop back to Sparrow Springs area. Crowders Trail is very easy and a fast hike compared to Rocktop. (2.8 miles)

3). From the ‘Fork’ where Pinnacle Trail and Crowders split, continue west on Pinnacle trail. The trail is rated hard but it’s really not bad at all. There is about a 1/4 mile section at the end that is steep as you reach the Pinnacle Summit. This is a wide trail most of the way but it is not heavily trafficked like Crowders Summit. I had the entire Pinnacle Summit to myself. Obviously be careful on the rock - they can move! In my opinion, the best views in the park are from Pinnacle. It’s not spoiled by a large radio tower and road like Crowders Summit. All rock and very steep. (2.0 miles)

4). From the Pinnacle Summit, you should be able to see an unmarked trail heading almost due south. Follow it and it will run in to Ridgeline Trail about 0.2 miles west of it’s official trailhead. This saves you some back-tracking. Now head Southwest on Ridgeline. It’s a very moderate trail and I did not see anyone at all. The trail is well maintained but there isn’t much to see. You will cross Pinnacle Road after a mile. You will then cross Highway 161 after another 1.75 miles. From the Highway 161 crossing, you can Uber back to Sparrow Springs if there is an Uber driver in Gastonia. If you are going to do this, keep an eye on the Uber map as you approach Highway 161. If it says none available, there may not be a drivers
in Gaston... if there is, you will be in range. It will take them 15-20 minutes to each you at the crossing. (2.75 miles). Uber fare is $15-$18...

5). If you go past Highway 161, forget catching a ride share. Trust me - I tried. There’s nothing in range as you continue Southwest. There’s also not a lot to see. I suppose you could hike the final 3 miles and return to Highway 161 and catch a ride back seeing all of Crowerds in a single day. It was pushing 7:30-pm when I came off the trail and didn’t want to risk having the park closed on me. (If you opted to go all the way to Stone Mountain and the State Line, it would be 6 miles out and back to the last ‘pick-up’ point on Highway 161.

Add all that mileage up and it’s 18 miles for the entire park. If you forego the six mile out and back, you can see 90% of the park on a 12 mile hike - about the same distance as taking the Ridgeline Trail our and back from Sparrow Springs.

hiking
5 days ago

Nice short hike. Go early if you want to enjoy the peace and beauty here.

Explored the entire summit, today. I think I went to every overlook you could possibly go to.

hiking
5 days ago

I think this is the coolest trail in the park from beginning to end. Discovered some new overlooks with nice views of the Pinnacle Summit and the Ridgeline.

rock climbing
7 days ago

Beautiful hike. Somewhat easy until you get near the top then it gets a bit strenuous. Great payoff.

hiking
7 days ago

Such a rewarding hike. Oh my at the stairs. Keep going and make it to the top to see a truly amazing view for such a short hike. Heavily used so I suggest going early or late. Peak times can be ruined by groups playing music loudly instead of enjoying the peacefulness and views. I go often.

hiking
15 days ago

Challenging and rewarding

trail running
15 days ago

Love this trail and extended it to ranger station so was almost 15 miles for out and back

nice easy/mod hike. when you get to the sign that says 'stop' make a left and keep going. Circle around to some amazing views, minor rock hopping and just keep going up to more views.

Fun scrambling trail near the city! Tons of lizards and birds on trail to keep you interested too! Great facilities at this park, would definitely go again!

19 days ago

I went up there yesterday for the first time at it was very beautiful. I was surprised to see so many people up at the top

Easy and short walk that connects you from the visitors center to both the Fern Trail and the Lake Trail.

hiking
28 days ago

It’s challenging with a great reward

Took the tower trail up and then the backside trail down! Tower trail was steep going up but very fun. I wished there weren't stairs on the backside trail but it did help because it was a little steep but the views were amazing at the top of Crowders mountain!

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome views and easy maintained trails.

Wow. I was excited about doing this loop, although a bit tentative regarding my ability to take on Rocktop. So glad I did though! I started at the Visitor Center, started on Crowders Trail, and took the Rocktop trail at the fork. My mind was blown when I saw the first rock field I had to climb through, it was a blast! I struggle with ascents due to being out of shape, but if I have to go uphill I’d rather do it by climbing rocks and scrambling to make it more interesting. I took frequent breaks to catch my breath and take pics, but had so much fun navigating the trail. There were plenty of great views along the way as well. I made sure to follow the marked trail (I’m a bit of a purist in that way) but be warned, following the trail as marked takes you along the most difficult path possible, requiring some serious bouldering in a couple places. There are numerous side trails along the way to circumvent many of the tough areas if needed, however. I found the trail to be well marked, though I found about half of the marks to be on rocks rather than trees.
This trail meets up with and follows the Tower Trail eventually, which takes you up a steep gravel road, coming up alongside the towers near the summit. It is not completely obvious where to go from there, especially if a truck is blocking most of the path as was the case today, but the trick is to just follow the side of the towers. The overlook is just past the towers. This is a great area, and there is plenty of room for scrambling and exploring past the overlook. I thought I saw some blue trail markers when exploring up there (beyond the tower/backside trails) but cannot find any mapped trails corresponding to this.
After hanging out at the top, I started back down on the Backside Trail. I didn’t particularly enjoy the stairs, but am glad I did them on the way down. Then I met up with the Crowders Trail and took that back around all the way to the Visitor’s Center. Admittedly after the Rocktop Trail and Overlook, Crowders Trail was nothing spectacular but was a nice walk in the woods. I found the day’s activities catching up with my legs in the last couple of miles and was worn out by the end. I have to say Rocktop has become my favorite trail here!

hiking
1 month ago

great trail but decently strenuous towards the top. Beautiful view at the top! Well worth the hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Had to do this one over 2 days to hike the full length of it. It's a little over 9 miles long. The first hike I parked at Kings Mtn National Military Park and did the SC portion of the trail, which is 3 miles to the Crowders Mtn Boulders Access. 10 mile round trip...2 miles down the Lake Crawford Trail just to get to the Ridgeline Trail. Parked at Boulders Access for the 2nd hike. 12 mile round trip to the Pinnacle Summit and back. 3 road crossings.The Boulders Overlook off trail has some nice views and the Pinnacle is a good reward at the end, but not as scenic as I thought it would be. Moderate...only about 500 feet in elevation gain in over 6 miles. More incline the closer you get to the Pinnacle. So I've now officially conquered every trail in Crowders Mountain State Park.

hiking
1 month ago

this trail will give you a workout

Great anaerobic burn especially when hitting the 336 steps. I typically do laps around Tower and connect to Backside. That is about a 2.7 mile lap. If doing two or more laps, I’ll sometimes reverse the laps. I do most of my 25 mile per week runs on this section as I’m less likely to trip on a root or rock, like I might on the other Crowders Mountain trails.

Note: Crowders is a Very Busy Park on the weekends. Arrive early or late, else you may have to wait or park offsite. This is NOT a lightly hiked park as noted on this site. But, it is a damned nice gem of a park here in our Charlotte backyard.

Lastly, if you are reading this, please abide by the Park rules. Leave before the Park closes. The Rangers and Support staff have families to go home to. Lastly, flick off your dog’s crap off trail. The park doesn’t require bagging your pups poops, but it doesn’t mean leave it for us to dodge or step on.

trail running
1 month ago

Great anaerobic burn especially when hitting the 336 steps. I typically do laps around Tower and connect to Backside. That is about a 2.7 mile lap. If doing two or more laps, I’ll sometimes reverse the laps. I do most of my 25 mile per week runs on this section as I’m less likely to trip on a root or rock, like I might on the other Crowders Mountain trails.

Note: Crowders is a Very Busy Park on the weekends. Arrive early or late, else you may have to wait or park offsite. This is NOT a lightly hiked park as noted on this site. But, it is a damned nice gem of a park here in our Charlotte backyard.

Lastly, if you are reading this, please abide by the Park rules. Leave before the Park closes. The Rangers and Support staff have families to go home to. Lastly, flick off your dog’s crap off trail. The park doesn’t require bagging your pups poops, but it doesn’t mean leave it for us to dodge or step on.

trail running
1 month ago

I blend trail running and trekking on the various Crowders trails. This one is a bit more “rooty” and rocky than say Tower or Backside. When running Pinnacle I typically hit Ridgeline to get away from the crowds.

hiking
1 month ago

I was excited but nervous about taking on this trail. I am pretty out of shape (aerobically speaking) and have patellas (kneecaps) that are prone to subluxation/dislocation, so reading about the steepness and rocky nature of the trail concerned me.
I started out from the Visitor Center around 9:30 on a weekday, there were others coming and going but sparse enough to have my own time and space on the trail. I was very slow and deliberate on the way up for the reasons mentioned above. The entire trail goes through woods, which helps with the sun. The trail is a steady but very gradual incline at the beginning. About halfway up the trail goes through a few areas of large rocks and boulders, requiring a little scrambling but nothing too bad. Towards the last half mile the trail starts a steep ascent which is quite demanding. Being out of shape I stopped to take several breaks, but was able to make it up without too much trouble. There’s only one bench up in this area but there are several large rocks that make for natural resting places. The trail technically ends before the Pinnacle summit, at a rock wall and a sign that warns that others have been seriously injured and killed beyond this point. The rock wall is not too difficult to navigate, just take your time and look for proper footing.
At the top of the rock wall (a short stretch, not large at all) is the first main viewing area. This is a rather large space with lots of rock facings that overlook the landscape to the west of the park (towards the foothills). As I was snacking, half a dozen hawks were circling the area which was pretty neat. Many people seemed content with reaching this area and turned around here, however a trail continues past this viewing area, meandering around rocks and various outcroppings which provide dozens of little areas to snap photos and get views of other side of the mountain. The Charlotte skyline was barely visible with the naked eye on a partly cloudy day, and my phone’s camera was not able to capture it. Continuing along this trail for another tenth of a mile will get you to the actual summit of the Pinnacle area, designated by a pole. There are lots of areas to explore near the top and I really enjoyed this part, though it required a lot of scrambling around boulders. The wind is pretty significant near the top as well but I didn’t find it to be dangerous with proper stance and footing.
After I had my fill of the top, I returned down the summit on the original trail. I did opt to take the Turnback Trail halfway down just for exploration and a change of scenery, and was glad I did because I was starting to feel the effects of the climb and the downhill muscle use and this trail avoided crossing rock beds and was fairly easy. This trail returns to the Visitor Center.
I hiked the area on a warm March day, which I think is a superb time to do so as the weather is nice but the trees have not filled out yet, so views are much better.
I am really glad I ended up attempting the hike, I found that with patience and careful attention to my footing my knees fared pretty well. Well worth it in my opinion!

Triple Trail Challenge:
Three trips up the Backside Trail over the lookout and down the Tower Trail gets you over two miles of uphill climb and just over 1,000 rail tie stairs while the downhill slope of the Tower Trail makes this challenge achievable for a wide range of skill levels. Only thing better? Quadruple trail challenge! Enjoy

hiking
1 month ago

those steps!

hiking
2 months ago

Great trails. Up the stair section will get you a good workout and then rest with a great view finish out with a nice sweeping wide trail back to the parking lot.
During week saw only a few people

hiking
2 months ago

This is a good trail, but I wouldn't call it "lightly trafficked." Not on a weekend, anyway.

Great views at the top!

hiking
2 months ago

The bride and I made this hike, it was her first hike. she enjoyed it. weather was great and the view was awesome. will be back for another round for sure.

True to the Description listed on the post. Well marked and maintained trail. Took Tower up and Backside down - I’m sure would be great the opposite way too. Backside has many steps near the top. Have to be careful with pups/ kids at the summit as there are many steep cliff sides at the lookout points. Beautiful views!

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