A common lament for Piedmont trail runners is that it’s hard to find mountain training close to home. Actually, we should say that’s a common lament for trail runners outside the Charlotte area.
The two-state Ridgeline Trail, joining Crowders Mountain State Park to the north in North Carolina with Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina, offers a 12-mile training run that’s just about ideal. Start on the North Carolina end and you’re faced with a goodly amount of climbing in your first 2 3/4 miles. A mile and a half in, after some good rollers, you’ll encounter nearly 600 feet of vertical climbing, up to 1,705-foot Kings Pinnacle, in a half mile.
For the next six miles, to the South Carolina border, it’s a gradual downhill overall, but with a goodly amount of up-and-down. Then, almost magically, at the South Carolina border the trail flatlines: The last 3.7 miles is a mellow cruise into Kings Mountain State Park.
An especially good run if you’re looking to up your distance into the double digits.
Maps: Downloadable here, also available at trailheads.
Getting there from downtown Charlotte
Distance: 45 minutes from downtown Charlotte
Length: 12 miles
Time to complete: 2-6 hours
Address: 522 Park Office Lane
City: Kings Mountain