Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Crowded Mountain

It only takes me about twenty to twenty-five minutes to drive from the house to Crowders Mountain State Park. Over the decades that I have lived here it is the park where I most often end up when I feel like hiking on steep terrain but don't have the time to head for the real mountains.

So it was today when I took my second trip there in two weeks.

Today I hiked to the top of King's Pinnacle. It's the highest mountain in the park at just a tad under 1800 feet above sea level. Yeah, I know. Pretty pathetic even when compared to a park like South Mountains. But the summit does stand over 900 feet above the surrounding terrain and there are cliffs all around the top, so it's an impressive little mountain.

One thing about Crowders Mountain State Park is that I never really see any wildlife. The only creature I can expect to see are Turkey buzzards. Other than those, the only wild animal I have ever seen in the park was an otter. This was really strange because there is almost no water there...just a couple of small streams and a very small man-made pond. What this otter was doing in this dry, rocky terrain is a mystery. It crossed the Pinnacle Trail in front of me, paused very briefly, and hurried along. I suppose it was headed for a decent creek or river somewhere and was just passing through.

I think the reason I never see any wildlife there is because of why the park is affectionately known as "Crowded Mountain". Since it's so close to Charlotte and Gastonia, a lot of people go there to hike. On a busy day you will encounter hundreds of people. This was a mid-week hike for me and I still met up with well over twenty other hikers. So don't go there expecting anything like solitude. You won't find it, unless you decide to leave the trails and go bushwhacking through the woods.

All in all I had a good time today. Climbing up there was a decent little workout. The wind was brisk and the skies were thinly overcast and the temperatures were very mild. It was a fine day to be out in the forests climbing mountains.

There are a butt-load of rocks in that park.

They're not kidding. It seems hardly a year passes by without someone falling and getting killed on the cliffs on King's Pinnacle and Crowders Mountain.

This is the most popular overlook on King's Pinnacle. Not quite the summit, but it does offer a view of the high mountains far to the west on a clear day. You can even spot the Black Mountains from there when the conditions are right.

King's Pinnacle. Good for an infusion of hiking upward.

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