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Waterfall on Jacob Fork River at South Mountains State Park
Park at Capacity by 10:00 a.m. on Weekends   

South Mountains now routinely reaches capacity by10:00 a.m. on weekends. If you do not arrive by this time, you are not likely to get a parking spot until the afternoon.  

 Last updated on: Friday, July 31, 2020

Status of park facilities as of July 3, 2020   

The park is open daily from 7:00am to 10:00pm.

Picnic Areas are open with tables spread out for social distancing and grills are now open.

The family campground, equestrian campground, and backcountry campsites are open as of May 22. However, group camping is still not allowed. Only six people or less per site.

RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR ALL CAMPSITES. All campers, including backpackers, must make a reservation through the system online or by phone (1-877-722-6762). There are no walk-ins. Campers can make same-day reservations up until 9:00pm on the day of your arrival. You must make a reservation before setting up camp on a campsite. You cannot place your personal belongings on a site to "reserve" the site for you. When you arrive for your reservation, use the free Wi-Fi near the visitor center to self-check-in using the Reserve America Camping App.

Weekend delays: Visitors should expect park entrance delays from 9:30am to 6:00pm on weekends. You may encounter a 30-minute to 1-hour wait time to get into Jacob Fork access. Parking is limited and some spaces are coned off to meet maximum occupancy recommendations. Visitors will be directed to other parking areas once the High Shoals Falls trailhead parking is full. Vehicles will be stopped near the park entrance gate, and traffic into the park will be controlled by park rangers for visitor safety and for emergency access. Plan ahead and limit the number of vehicles you take to the park. Maps are available at the visitor center and trailhead kiosks.

 Last updated on: Friday, July 3, 2020

Bridle trails:


Bike trails:


3001 South Mountain Park Ave.
Connelly Springs, NC 28612



Map of North Carolina

GPS: 35.5963, -81.600


Open Daily (except Christmas Day) 7am
Closing Hours
December, January and February 7pm
November 8pm
March, April and October 9pm
May - September 10pm
Closed Christmas Day

Park Office
8am - 5pm weekdays and weekends
Closed Christmas Day

Area information

South Mountains State Park is located in Burke County, 20.5 miles south of Morganton. From I-40, turn south on NC 18, travel 11.1 miles and make a right turn onto SR 1913 (Sugarloaf Road). Take SR 1913 to Old NC 18 4.3 miles and turn left. Travel 2.7 miles and make a right turn onto SR 1901 (Ward's Gap Road). The park is 1.4 miles off SR 1901 on SR 1904 (South Mountains Park Avenue).

Travel one mile from the beginning of South Mountain Park Avenue to the South Mountains State Park gate. 

Directions to Clear Creek Watershed

From South Mountains State Park, Jacob’s Fork Section, exit the park and go to stop sign. Turn LEFT onto Ward’s Gap Road. Go to next stop sign, turn LEFT onto Old Highway 18. Follow Old Highway 18 for approximately 5.2 miles to intersection with Enola Road on the LEFT, River Road on the right and Old Highway 18 continues straight. Turn LEFT onto Enola Road 6 miles to I-40. Exit WEST (LEFT) onto I-40. Take next exit 103. 

  1. Exit 103, turn LEFT at the light at the top of the ramp in direction of Rutherfordton. You will pass Ingles on your left and Lowes on your right. 
  2. Follow Highway 64 for approximately 5.1 miles to Jenkins Road. Turn LEFT onto Jenkins Road. 
  3. Follow Jenkins Road approximately 1/2 mile to Clark Loop. Turn RIGHT onto Clark Loop. 
  4. Once on Clark Loop, go .3 mile to “Y” intersection and take the RIGHT fork, Branstrom Orchard Road. 
  5. Follow Branstrom Orchard Road 0.3 mile to a gravel parking lot access on the left. 

This area of the park is not patrolled as frequently as other areas and there may be some risk of vandalism to parked vehicles. 

Directions to Henry River area

  1. At stop sign at the end of the park entrance road turn LEFT onto Ward’s Gap Road. 
  2. Follow Ward’s Gap Road for 1.3 miles until you reach a “T” intersection at Old Highway 18. Turn LEFT onto Old Highway 18. 
  3. Follow Old Highway 18 approximately 5.2 miles to intersection with Enola Road on the left, River Road on the right, and Old Highway 18 will continue straight. Turn LEFT onto Enola Road. 
  4. Follow Enola Road for 2.4 miles to Watershed Road. Turn LEFT onto Watershed Road. USE CAUTION, this road is VERY CURVY. 
  5. Approximately 4.7 miles Watershed Road will turn to dirt. (At this point a 4x4 vehicle with high ground clearance is highly recommended.) Travel 0.4 miles and the road will split. Take the right split down the hill. 0.2 miles you will see a road on the right leading to a parking area. 

NOTE: South Mountains State Park does not own property bordering the river. There are several parcels of private property. We have no control over adjoining property owners. 

This area of the park is not patrolled as frequently as other areas and there may be some risk of vandalism to parked vehicles. 

Get directions from Google.