Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kings & Crowders

I've run at Crowders Mountain State Park 3 times & each time, it's been 90 degrees or more. I felt good after the 3 hour run the day before & I've wanted to go up Kings Mountain & Crowders, so I did that on my way home yesterday. These mountains are rocky remnants of an old mountain range... and I do mean rocky. Solid rocky outcrops on top, but loose stuff going up.

I'd never gone up Kings Mountain before & told myself as short as it was, I'd run all the way. Nope. Things were going well until I hit the really steep part about 1/2 mile from the top. Dang. The Kings Mountain loop using the Pinnacle & Turnback Trail took me about 40 minutes plus 10 at the top to look around. Great views from the top of these mountains, as they stick out 800' above everything around them. Very similar to Hanging Rock & Pilot Mountain above Winston-Salem. From the Visitors Center where I parked, there are two ways up to the top of Crowders Mountain. One is up a steep gravel road and then 250+ stairs. That's the easier way. The harder way, which I did is scrambling up rock & then over a ridgeline & back down the stairs. You kinda lose control going down the gravel road before turning left on a rocky, rolling trail back to the Visitors Center. The Crowders Mountain loop is about an hour, so I was out close to 2 hours & felt good, but was humbled to absolutely have to walk in places.

What excited me most is confirming what I thought to be true. Near the peak of Kings Mountain, the Ridgeline Trail comes off to the left & goes into South Carolina to Kings Mountain State Park & Kings Mountain National Military Park. This is a 6.2 mile trail & the loop around the South Carolina parks is 16 miles, making that a great place for a long run. For some reason, the Ridgeline Trail is not on the maps any of the 3 parks provides. Parking at the Visitors Center at Crowders & cutting out the big climbs at Crowders & Kings, you could have yourself a nice 50K. There is a 50K- or actually a 60K there, but retracing that course as a training run with it's climbs to the peaks would require too much walking for me. When it cools off this fall, I'll head over there.


Anonymous said...

Coach, you break your rib and you're like the Energizer bunny.

Jason said...

I want to get up and run the ridgeline, but can't find any information on water availability. Do you have any idea if there was water on it - or better yet a Sonic Drive In 8 miles in?

Coach Spencer said...

I'm no Energizer bunny. The Noid was always my favorite 80s corporate icon.

Jason- I enjoyed a medium-sized order of tots on my way up! Nah, like I said, I can't even find a map with the Ridgeline Trail on it, so I don't know exactly where it comes in at the SC trails. There is water at the Crowders Mt. Visitors Center & another place at the other parking lot below Crowders (can't remember the name). There's water at the SC trails & I've run there once. No water, I'd imagine on the 6.2 mile Ridgeline Trail.

stanstin said...

On Friday the wife and I ran the Ridgeline Trail from the new Boulders Access to the top of Kings Pinnacle and back. I'd say that the 6.2 miles one-way is about right. But past the Boulders Access visitor center and parking lot, it's about 2 more miles on the Ridgeline Trail to the Kings Mountain Parks in South Carolina, according to the employee at the new visitor center.
So by my calculations and according to personal experience and trail maps, you could run the "Tower Trail" and cross Crowders Mtn (1.8 mi), then run the Crowders Trail (2.8 mi); then take the Pinnacle Trail to the peak of Kings Pinnacle (1.7). Then add the Ridgeline (8 mi) and the loop in Kings Mtn Parks (16 mi). That's over 30 miles without backtracking whatsoever. Or you could switch the route and include the Rocktop or Turnback Trails also. I don't run long runs like that, but the system of trails out there is improved and amazing.
Glad to hear that you're recovering from your fall.