In one of the state’s most rugged areas, South Mountains State Park features elevations to 3,000 feet, an 80-foot waterfall, mountain streams and more than 40 miles of trails for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers. A true backcountry experience is offered at 24 backpacking campsites at seven locations. Equestrian camping is available with trailer parking and barn to complement 33 miles of bridle trails. Mountain bikers enjoy a strenuous 17-mile loop. Drive-to campsites sit beside the Jacob Fork River, with the river and its tributaries offering miles of trout fishing. There are two picnic areas and a picnic shelter for groups. A visitor center offers museum-quality exhibits on the cultural and natural history of the South Mountains.
Tent, trailer and RV camping
Drive-to family camping is available a half mile east of the Jacob Fork parking area.
Eighteen campsites include a picnic table and fire circle, and one site is wheelchair accessible. Two of those campsites have electric hookups for RVs. There is no dump station.
A bathhouse with hot showers and drinking water are located nearby.
If you do not have a reservation, please stop by the park office for availability.
Twenty-four backpack camping sites are offered in seven areas of the park.
These sites are designated on the park map, and hiking distances to each backpack camping site vary. Each camping area has a pit toilet located nearby.
All supplies, including water, must be packed to the sites. To drink water from nearby creeks and streams, use a filtration device or boil the water for at least five minutes.
Below is a listing of the backpack campsites and the distance between the campsites and the Jacob Fork parking area.
Upper Falls Trail - 1.4 miles
Little River - 1.4 miles
Shinny Creek -1.2 miles
Sawtooth Trail - 2.5 miles
Jacob Branch - 3.8 miles
Fox Trail - 4.9 miles
Murray Branch - 5.4 miles
The equestrian camping area adjacent to the horse trailer parking area consists of 15 campsites, a 33-stall barn (nine stalls are 5 feet by 10 feet and 24 stalls are 10 feet by 10 feet) and a washhouse with hot showers and flush toilets.
Campers without reservations must confirm site availability with park staff before occupying a site. Only campers with horses can stay at the equestrian campsites. Proof of a negative equine infectious anemia (Coggins) test is required for horses using the barn.
The park is a great place for a hike!
The park has many miles of streams where an angler can cast a line. Most of the streams are classified as wild trout water while approximately two miles are classified as delayed harvest trout water. While general trout regulations apply in this area for part of the year, only single hook artificial lures can be used from October through the first Friday in June, and every fish caught must be released. A special license is needed for trout fishing, and all rules and regulations of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission are enforced.
South Mountains State Park is one of the few parks in the state parks system offering mountain bicyclists the chance to ride through the park. The 17-mile loop trail is strenuous, so riders should be in good shape before attempting it.
There are 33 miles of equestrian trails at South Mountains State Park. All visitors with horses must be able to provide proof of a negative equine infectious anemia (Coggins) test while visiting North Carolina State Parks.
Dining in the out-of-doors is a special treat at South Mountains State Park. The Jacob's Fork picnic area is adjacent to the Jacob Fork parking area and is accessible for persons with disabilities. Facilities include 12 tables, two grills and a restroom.
The Shinny Creek picnic area is less than a half mile from the Jacob Fork parking area. Four tables and three grills. A 10-table picnic shelter with fireplace and two charcoal grills are available on a first-come, first-serve basis unless reservations are made.
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