Thursday, September 14, 2017

Kings Mountain State Park

Fall is in the air! Which means it's an awesome time to get out the door on a crisp morning for an invigorating hike in the woods. But, let's be honest. It's also football season and there are games that need watching and teams that need cheering come afternoon. This is when it's nice to take a fun morning outing and be back in time to settle in with your favorite team.
Kings Mountain State Park is a great destination for doing just that. A few miles down I-85 from Crowders Mountain, it takes less than an hour to get there. And when you're there, you have a number of fun options for exploring.
I recommend starting at the Living History Farm, a replica of a mid-19th century Yeoman Farm. The farm has a two-story farmhouse, barn, smokehouse, carpenter/blacksmith shop, sorghum mill and cooker, weave shop, corncrib, cotton gin and several other small dwellings -- all situated in a large field, making it easy to meander from one relic to the next. There are also live horses, a donkey, roosters and a very friendly farm cat. Bring change: You can feed the roosters and horses with feed from a gumball machine!
It's fun to wander around the buildings and imagine life there during the revolutionary era. There are also bathrooms on site.
From the farm, you can hop on the easy 1.5 mile, out-and-back natural surface Living History Farm Trail. The trailhead is on the opposite side of the street from the Living History Farm parking lot. Follow the yellow diamond blazes. The shady, rolling trail meanders down to a small lake with an impressive stone dam you can walk beside, then rock-hop in the nearby creek.
After heading back to your car, if energy levels and time allow, I highly recommend taking a short drive to the Kings Mountain National Military Park adjacent to the State Park. It's all connected by the same road; if it weren't for signs, you wouldn't know you'd left one for the other. (See the National Park map)
Park at the Visitor Center, where you can watch a short film and see an exhibit about the site, which is called the "turning point" of the Revolutionary War in the South, where, on October 7, 1780, Patriots won an hour-long battle that changed the course of the war.

From the Visitor Center, hop on the 1.5 mile Battlefield Trail. The trail is paved and easily accessible to all skill levels -- though it is on Kings Mountain, so it's got some steep hills to climb. The trail is well marked with information signs along the way that do an amazing job of taking you back in time to the day of the battle. I'm not a history buff, but standing on the site where this significant event in America's history occurred was captivating for me. I think you'll find it to be the same.
Overall, a fun way to spend the morning outdoors. And, you can be home in plenty of time for kickoff!

How to get there:
Kings Mountain State Park is located at 1277 Park Rd., Blacksburg, SC 29702. From Charlotte, take I-85 south to exit 8. Turn left onto Hwy 161. Go across the NC/SC state line and the park entrance will be on the right. Follow Park Rd. past the State Park Headquarters (a small wood cabin on your left) and take the first left onto the paved Group Camp Rd. There will be a sign at the turn directing you to the Living History Farm and another sign at the Living History Farm parking lot, which will be on your left. Access the Living History Farm trailhead across the street from the parking lot.

To continue to Kings Mountain National Military Park, return to Park Rd. and take a left. Follow Park Rd. a few miles. The National Park Service Visitor Center will be on your right.

Don't forget to pack:
  • Cash: There is a $2/adult (16 and older) fee for visiting Kings Mountain State Park. Pay by putting your money in an envelope in the kiosk at the Living History Farm parking lot and hang the punch tag on your rearview mirror. Also, take a couple quarters to purchase rooster and horse feed from the gumball machines. There is no fee for Kings Mountain National Military Park.
  • Shoes: Comfy sneakers will do.
  • Water: Stay hydrated. You can refill at the Visor Center.
  • Snacks or a picnic lunch: Take some fruit, trail mix or crackers to keep your energy up for exploring.
  • Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen: The Living History Farm is wide open and bring on a sunny day. The Living History Farm trail and Battlefield trail are somewhat shady.
  • Bugspray: We didn't see any mosquitoes, but ticks are always a risk.
  • Backpack or small bag: Something lightweight and comfortable to carry your essentials.

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