Friday, March 13, 2015

Trailblaze Challenge: South Mountain

Last weekend, I did an 11-mile hike at South Mountain in Connelly Springs, NC. I'd never been there before, so it was a great introduction to the park which has over 45 miles of trails. Our travels took us from the Jacob's Fork parking lot in a big loop up a lot of steep hills and then back down the other side. One of these days I'll activate my actual GPS to see what kind of elevation change we do on these hikes, but for now I'll just say it was steep! There were a lot of times I thought I was reaching the top of the hill only to realize we were still going up! It was a beautiful day for a hike, with the weather finally getting into the 40's in the mountains and probably even in the 50's in Charlotte. Our loop included Headquarters, Shinny, Possum, Horse Ridge, Lower CCC and Upper Falls trails. Several of the trails were horse trails that were fairly wide, but a lot of the time it was just single track through a lot of mountain laurel. 

About a half a mile from the parking lot, my hiking partner and I took a detour to the top of Shoals Falls - lots of stairs and beautiful views of the water coming down over the rocks. This is definitely one of the most popular areas in the park and we saw more people in that 1-mile portion than we did through the rest of the hike. Even though it's been warm for a few days, there was still a lot of ice at the top of the falls, which made for some cool photo opportunities (as long as you didn't slip on the ice!) and made it look like it was snowing depending on which way you were facing.

Overall, it was a great hike and I'm excited to go back for our 22 mile hike in April to check out more of the trails - because of all of the mountain laurel it was already pretty green, but in a few weeks the trees should start getting more of their leaves and it will be even better!

Keep up with all my Trailblaze Challenge hiking adventures or donate a few dollars to help support my fundraising goal to raise $2,500 for Make-A-Wish!

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