Crowders Mountain SP: Backside Trail

Crowders Mountain and Rocktop trails

This is a classic western “payoff” hike: pay your dues early on and your payoff is grand views from atop a rocky summit.

This 5-miler begins from the Visitor Center through a hardwood forest, crosses busy Sparrow Springs Road, then disappears back into the woods. You’re in for another mile and a half of mellow climbing along the western flank of Crowders Mountain. At the Backside Trail, the hike gets serious. A steep climb finally gives in to stairs: within four-tenths of a mile you’ll gain 360 vertical feet.

Then the payoff begins.

The rocky knob atop Crowders Mountain offers views to the north and east of the countryside 800 feet below. “Countryside” may be taking bucolic license. Most of what you’ll see are the cities of Gastonia and Charlotte. But there are spots where you can look west into the mostly uncluttered distance and south to Kings Mountain in South Carolina. You may also catch a glimpse of the rock climbers who appreciate Crowders Mountain for its rocky spires. The rocky spine the begins your return trip is popular with younger hikers who love a good scramble.

In the fall and spring seasons, try to plan your visit for the less busy weekdays: because of Crowders Mountain State Park’s proximity to the state’s largest city it’s one popular destination. Even with 18 miles of trail total it can be hard to find solace here on Crowders Mountain or on the park’s other popular peak, Kings Pinnacle.

More info: Crowders Mountain State Park

Maps: Downloadable here, also available at the trailhead.

Getting there from downtown Charlotte

Difficulty: Strenuous
Distance: 45 minutes
Time to complete: 2-4 hours
Address: 522 Park Office Lane
City: Kings Mountain
State: N.C.
Zip: 28086
Latitude: 35.2133
Longitude: 81.2935