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South Mountain State Park
Trail Information
Nearest City: Shelby, NC
How to get there: From Charlotte, Take 85 south to the 74 Kings Mountain exit On 74, just past Shelby, take a right on to 226. Then just follow the brown signs for South Mountain Park.
Trail Length: 18 - 19 miles
Trail Description: It's about an 18 or 19 mile loop with HUGE climbs and blistering fast downhills. You will want to bring a dual suspension if possible. South Mountain is not a trail for the novice.
Other Info:

 

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Trail Reviews

Date Ridden: 08/22/2015  -  Dan of Charlotte, nc
Route Taken: got tired and board!!!!!!!!!!!!
Opinions: if you like having having a fun ride on your only Saturday off then DO NOT!!!!!!!!! drive all the way to south mountain. Its a gravel horse trail with big piles of sh*t everywhere. Also be prepaired to climb your *ss off with no payoff. Hey look at me I'm going down a gravel rd. LAME!!!!!!
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Date Ridden: 08/16/2013  -  Hammer of Lake Wylie, SC
Route Taken: Trail is basically a lollipop with stick going from parking area up to top of trail then go right following trail all the way around to trail back down. 16 mile loop + with 3k of climb per lap.
Opinions: This is basically a gravel forest road lollipop loop. Not technical at all but exceptional training and a great climbing workout. Perfect all weather trail. Some road thru what looks like an abandoned subdivision with some great views. Has an AWESOME river crossing and two epic climbs back up to ridge at end. Did 2 laps in the rain and ended with 32 miles and 6k of climb.
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Date Ridden: 07/10/2010  -  henderson of monroe, nc
Route Taken: whole bike route x 2
Opinions: Super 4 cardio and climbs if you're training in CLT area where there aren't many. Did 2 loops in training for ORAMM - the 5K of climbing will help me.
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Date Ridden: 06/03/2010  -  J of Memphis, Tn
Route Taken: Whole trail
Opinions: I used to ride this trail in the early '90's as a training ride. Needless to say it hasn't changed very much, but it still offers a killer workout. Rode it on my SS early this year and probably would opt for gears next time.
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Date Ridden: 10/16/2009  -  Jody of Davidson, NC
Route Taken: whole loop from the parking lot
Opinions: second time riding the trail and this time I made it without having to push (although I stopped a lot to catch my breath...) If you think you are in shape, try to do this one in under 3 hours...
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Date Ridden: 09/06/2009  -  Erik of Pineville, NC
Route Taken: not sure, went in reverse. Tried going up a horse trail. bad idea, trust me. ended up walking/carrying down trail behind waterfall. in over my head
Opinions: yes very physical, but no not technical except for slippery gravel couldn't ride all the way to top on first grade and walked but first decided to take a break and ended up lying on back hypervenitlating Thank God I'm only 41 or this would have been a heart attack and I rode alone
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Date Ridden: 08/02/2009  -  Kyle of Charlotte, NC
Route Taken: Whole 18 mile loop.
Opinions: Awesome awesome. I hate road riding and been looking for a good cardio trail. This is IT. Great views, great trail. The first bit WILL kick your butt, but hang in there. Not technical at all (but mind the washout humps) but the climbs will have your legs screamin. Definitely will go back!
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Date Ridden: 08/01/2009  -  matt of charlotte, nc
Route Taken: All 18 following bike signs. mostly fire road (double track)that circles park and is almost completely marked. nice views and lots of horses.
Opinions: I was looking for something similar to pisgah trails (bent creek, north mils, etc.) and not flat like charlotte. It definitely has the climbing part! Climb, descend, repeat. My garmin edge showed 3,000 feet of total elevation gain and descent. however the descent is not single track so it can be a let down(someone else nailed this). test yourself with this one. also the last turn right at mile 15 is what you climbed in to start, but is NOT marked at end. I added 1.5 miles with this mistake which hurt.
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Date Ridden: 02/15/2009  -  Candy of Mount Holly, NC
Route Taken: Entire Loop
Opinions: Very strenuous trail but beautiful views at the top. 1st 2.5 mile of uphill was the hardest to me, granny gear ALOT of the ride. The downhills are not technical but tons of fun. Took me 3 hours to do the whole loop. Would love to do this trail 3-4 times a year.
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Date Ridden: 01/05/2009  -  Scott C of vale, nc
Route Taken: full loop 18 miles
Opinions: Do not underestimate this trail by saying real mountainbikers would not like this trail. Technical? not exactly. But challenging as hell. If you like physical challenges and extreme downhill(try going off the trail), this is for you. One time is not enough to learn the possibilities and build an appreciation for this "fire road/equestrian trail". If you are an outdoor type, try packing in on your bike and camping after half the loop. Im all for the technical side of riding, but I love this trail. It has whipped me and I returned to defeat it.
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Date Ridden: 12/19/2008  -  goudaman of huntersville, nc
Route Taken: "mountain bike" trail...its a trail system up there that u connect to make a loop...a long, testing loop...it WILL test everything u have
Opinions: its not a trail in the traditional sense of singletrack. it is double track/fireroad, but, its not boring double track. if you were to plot the elevation changes on a line graph it would resemble your heart rate as u looked at that green line going up and down. its good that its not singletrack though, if it were it would not be bikeable. the gradient percentages do not max out until the last climb, or so it feels like it. there is a paved section where w/o pedaling i was hitting 39mph easily, then u slam into what has to be the steepest little climb you can imagine, and your only a little past half way. this trail not only tears at u physically, but diminishes ur spirit as u watch ur avg speed fall faster than your sweet. the downhills are waterbar laden speedtraps, leaves covering the ground makes it hard to see the rocks...adding to the fun though. if u want to know what u dont have, or looking for the perfect training ground.....this is your homage ****side note*** the difficulty rating is based on physical difficulty not tech of trail....overall rating is based on take it for what it is....not a made for/by mnt bikes
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Date Ridden: 09/01/2008  -  Rich G of Charlotte, NC
Route Taken: South Mountain 17 mile loop
Opinions: Was time for my annual fitness test on the South Mouintain 17 mile loop. It rained last night but the trail was quite firm and new gravel on HQ Trail made that opening bitch slap of a climb do-able. Parts of the Lower CC trail were overgrown but passible. The ford at Jacobs fork was surpisingly easy, rockhopping while partaging the bike. I have seen it impassible after heavy rains before. The climb on Upper falls trail would be a max challenge in the beginning of the loop, but at the end it is impossible to ride all the way up. In fact at one stretch you spend less eneregy walking the bike at the same spped you would be riding.

Real mountain bikers don't like this loop because it lacks technical challenges, but the cardio challenge is extreme. The fist climb on HQ trail blasts your glucose stores to hell. The rest of the ride you ride in a semi-dazed, semi-bonked state of bliss. Hit the Wendy's at Rt 18 & Rt 74 in Shelby afterward and inhale a Baconator in about two minutes.

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Date Ridden: 07/19/2008  -  madss of Huntersville, NC
Route Taken: entire 18 mile loop
Opinions: This trail is a great workout with some very nice long climbs. Some sections were overgrown so if I were to ride again I would shoot for early spring or fall when weeds die off. this trail is not very technical, fire roads and a fast paved section. the difficulty comes from the climbing. We did it on singlespeed so the gear guys will just spin a lower gear.
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Date Ridden: 09/02/2007  -  Charlie Sink of Lexington, NC
Route Taken: The whole 18 miles or so.
Opinions: This trail is long and hard. The uphills are all-you-can-handle and the downhills are fast and furious. But we need this trail too for those like me who like to lose themselves in the physical experience of doing something outdoors. Hope they keep it open. I'd like to do once a year or so.
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Date Ridden: 07/01/2007  -  Robert of Mooresville, NC
Route Taken: Just uphill then back down.
Opinions: My brother and I went here and we were expecting a little climb on a fire road and then some singletrack. But there is a 4.5 mile long uphill and then it is just a horse trail. The downhill is extremely fast back down I averaged 3.8 mph uphill but my downhill speed was 32.6 mph. You can get HUGE air on the drainage jumpson the way back down. I fell off on a sharp turn near the end and almost tore off all of the skin on my right leg. Great workout going uphill.
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Date Ridden: 06/18/2007  -  tpaw74 of Cornelius, NC
Route Taken: Not really sure, the maps at the office are terrible. The only thing I can say is that every part of this trail we explored was a 'beatdown.'
Opinions: Not really any bike trail to speak of. Most of the rideable area is made u[ of horsetrails and firebreaks. The only thing that makes this park worth the ride is the scenery. If you like hills and loose gravel while you climb them then maybe you would enjoy this, but otherwise don't waste your time.
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Date Ridden: 09/23/2006  -  Anthony of Gastonia, NC
Route Taken: 18 mile full loop
Opinions: Oh my. Been back in the saddle for about 3 months after many years off. This is a grueling trek on the legs. The map directions stink and being out in the back country by myself, I thought I would get back. Legs of steel needed for this loop. It is never ending beat down. Exhausting for me and I ride 20 miles/week around Charlotte and hike 30 miles/week. This is no joke, be IN SHAPE!!!
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Date Ridden: 05/20/2006  -  Dougalew of Charlotte, North Carolina
Route Taken: We rode the whole loop in the direction recommended at the trailhead.
Opinions: It's not worth the drive out there from Charlotte. It's just a fire road, so not very fun for those who seek a challenge. The climbs were long and steep and the downhills weren't worth the effort of the climb. Sure, you can go fast...it's a fire road, but that doesn't make it especially challenging.

The trail is aerobically difficult, but technically pretty easy...moderate at best. I won't go back, not when there's outstanding riding just a bit further away in Black Mountain, Brevard and Asheville.

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Date Ridden: 09/05/2005  -  XCRACER of Cornelius, NC
Route Taken: 17 Mile Loop
Opinions: It's everything everyone has said. What kills you is the 2mi climb in the beginning when you are not warmed up yet. I took the whole loop around. As I got to the top it was difficult to find the trail. Parts of the fire road had been completely grown over with vegetation. Get the park's printed directions from the podium in front of the area map/picnic area. The directions are for the complete loop using different trails. I can't wait to go back. There's a part on the way down that's a paved road. It's easy to clock 40+mph.
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Date Ridden: 11/12/2003  -  James of Charlotte, NC
Route Taken: up 6 miles, back down the same way (riding with somebody slow; got too dark to finish the entire thing)
Opinions: find the steepest dirt hill in north carolina, now ride up it. they call this south mountain. extremely non technical going up, but coming down, watch out for those untrannied water bars that will have you pulling an endo like never before.
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Date Ridden: 11/03/2002  -  King Jason of Lincolnton, NC
Route Taken: Upper and lower CC trails, Fire road descent
Opinions: The description listed above could not be more dead on. South Mountain is not for the faint at heart but is tons of fun to ride. The climbs are long and painful. Did I forget LONG? The descents are always worth it though. You'll be wanting to leave the hard tail at home here. Lots of root masses and baby head rocks to maneuver or fly over. You have to pay special attention to the water bars on the ranger station trail, because they are not tranisitioned. Most of them are turtlebacked and will throw you over the handlebars in a split second. Disc brakes and a dually would be my advisement here, but enjoy the beautiful scenery. Make the trip out and back to the falls, but don't get too close to the edge. Give me a shout and I'll ride with ya.

Jason

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Date Ridden: 11/03/2002  -  King Jason of Lincolnton, NC
Route Taken: Upper and lower CC trails, Fire road descent
Opinions: The description listed above could not be more dead on. South Mountain is not for the faint at heart but is tons of fun to ride. The climbs are long and painful. Did I forget LONG? The descents are always worth it though. You'll be wanting to leave the hard tail at home here. Lots of root masses and baby head rocks to maneuver or fly over. You have to pay special attention to the water bars on the ranger station trail, because they are not tranisitioned. Most of them are turtlebacked and will throw you over the handlebars in a split second. Disc brakes and a dually would be my advisement here, but enjoy the beautiful scenery. Make the trip out and back to the falls, but don't get too close to the edge. Give me a shout and I'll ride with ya.

Jason

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