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Waterfall on Jacob Fork River at South Mountains State Park
Current status of park facilities   

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

The visitor center is open. A properly worn mask or face covering, covering both the nose and the mouth, is required to enter.

Picnic areas are open with tables spread out for social distancing and grills are open. Picnic shelters and the amphitheater are not available to reserve.

The family campground, equestrian campground, and backcountry campsites are open. There is no group camping permitted at South Mountains. 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.

Please note that this alert is updated only when something changes. Generally, state parks are following the phased reopening statewide. As of September 11, we are following the new guidelines under phase 2.5.

 Last updated on: Friday, September 11, 2020

WEEKEND PARKING - Expect Delayed Entry   

South Mountains now routinely reaches capacity by 10:00am on weekends. Expect a 30min-1hr wait to enter the park once the Jacob Fork parking area is full. Park staff will be monitoring and controlling traffic. Roadside parking is PROHIBITED. 

 Last updated on: Sunday, August 16, 2020

Bridle trails:

OPEN TODAY

Bike trails:

OPEN TODAY


3001 South Mountain Park Ave.
Connelly Springs, NC 28612

828-433-4772
south.mountains@ncparks.gov

 

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

History highlights

The South Mountains, carved out of the Blue Ridge by erosion, are a broad belt of peaks and knobs rising abruptly from a deep valley. These steep, rugged mountains encompass 100,000 acres in Burke, Cleveland and Rutherford counties.

The Catawba Valley and the gaps across the mountain ranges to the west were once major travel routes. The South Mountains served as a buffer zone between the Cherokee and the Catawba Indians, and the first European settlers in the area farmed the fertile land along the Catawba River.

In 1828, gold was discovered at Brindle Creek. Legend holds that gold flakes and grains were first discovered in the mud used to seal a log cabin. The ensuing gold rush attracted immigrants, mining companies and slave owners. Gold was mined into the early 20th century, but activity in the gold mines eventually declined.

Development of land in what is now South Mountains State Park began in the 1930s when Camp Dryer, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, was established at Enola. Those employed at the camp constructed forest service roads, cleaned stream beds and built a forest observation tower. The Lower and Upper CCC roads are still in use as trails at the park today.

The park was established as a result of recommendations made by a National Park Service study conducted in coordination with the state of North Carolina. Though proposals for the park began in the 1940s, it was not until 1974 that funds were appropriated to purchase the land. The first land acquisition totaled 5,779 acres. Additional land has since been added, bringing the park to its present size of approximately 18,000 acres.

While most of the high points average approximately 2,000 feet in elevation, Buzzard's Roost towers some 3,000 feet above the surrounding landscape. Elevations within the park itself range from less than 1,200 feet at points along Jacob's Fork River to 3,000 feet on Buzzard's Roost along the park's western boundary.

Water winding through the park to the Catawba River cuts deep into the terrain, forming rugged and steep slopes. The most spectacular feature in the park is High Shoals Falls on Jacob's Fork River. Here, a torrent of water drops 80 feet over a cliff face of bare rock. In addition, Chestnut Knob offers tranquility and a magnificent view of surrounding peaks and ridges.