Located at the edge of the Piedmont, South Mountains State Park is considered one of the state’s most rugged parks. Rising in elevation to 3,000 feet, the park includes an 80-foot waterfall and more than 45 miles of trails used by hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders.
The deep woodland setting makes South Mountains State Park ideal for camping. Backpack camping and family camping are popular within the park, and group camping facilities are available in some backpack areas. Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about the riparian environment of the park, its plants and animals, watersheds, and trout-stream ecology.
Hikers may choose from a variety of marked hiking trails through the rugged terrain. The most popular is High Shoals Falls Loop Trail, which leads to a beautiful, crystal-clear waterfall. Visitors can enjoy picnicking at the park’s two picnic grounds. The Jacob’s Fork picnic area is accessible for persons with disabilities.
Trout fishing is especially good in any of the park’s many miles of streams, most of which are classified as wild trout water. Approximately two miles are classified as delayed harvest trout water.
Horses are welcome at South Mountains State Park, where 33 miles of equestrian trails wind through the woodlands. An equestrian campground adjacent to the horse trailer parking area consists of 15 campsites, a 33-stall barn, and a washhouse with hot showers and flush toilets.
One of the few parks in the state parks system that allows mountain biking, South Mountains State Park has an 18-mile loop trail that is strenuous and challenging as well as scenic.
Hours of Operation
December – February: 7 am – 7 pm
March, April, October: 7 am – 9 pm
May – September: 7 am – 10 pm
November: 7 am – 8 pm.
The park is closed on Christmas day.
The park office is open 8 am – 5 pm on weekdays and weekends. Closed Christmas day.
Camping fees start at $13/day. The picnic shelter is free on a first-come, first-serve basis, but can be reserved for $98 per day.
Hours of operation and fees are subject to change. Contact directly for most current information.
South Mountains State Park is located about 18 miles south of Morganton. From I-40, take Exit 105, turn south on NC 18, travel nine miles and make a right turn onto SR 1913 (Sugarloaf Road). Take SR 1913 to Old NC 18 and turn left. Travel four miles and make a right turn onto SR 1901 (Ward’s Gap Road). The Park is off SR 1901 on SR 1904 (South Mountains Park Avenue).