King's Pinnacle is an impressive local monadnock in Gaston County south of Charlotte, North Carolina. It is one of the easternmost bits of what could be called the Appalachian Mountains in the southeast. The peak of the mountain is 1705 feet above sea level (according to the park system, but 1690 feet according to quad maps) with the mountain's base rising from about 900 feet. The relief is quite impressive, and the peak is surrounded by very high cliffs of quartzite stone. The Pinnacle, along with the nearby Crowder's Mountain, is a haven for local rock climbers. Unfortunately, it's also an area that has seen more than its share of deaths from falls by novice and inexperienced climbers who attempt the walls without proper equipment or expertise.
Much of the area has been protected from development due to the efforts of local conservationists laboring to save the peaks and the outlying forest parcels. Recently, about 2,000 acres of land have been preserved and added to what is now Crowder's Mountain State Park.
Although set firmly in the Piedmont, Kings Pinnacle is home to several species of mountain plants: most notably rhododendron, mountain laurel, and azalea along the highest parts of the peak. A little bit of the high country for us flatlanders.
To see a wonderful website covering Crowder's Mountain State Park (of which King's Pinnacle is a part), go here.
From Interstate 85 take Highway 74 East. About one and one half miles from I-85, look for the brown state park signs. Turn right and follow the signs to the park. A parking lot for a trail to Crowder's Mountain will be on the left. Follow the road on to the park hq where there is another parking lot and the trailhead for The Pinnacle Trail which leads to the top of King's Pinnacle.
Red TapeNo admission fee. No charge for hiking. There is no charge for rock climbing, but you have to register for such at the park office and climb only in designated climbing areas. No climbing involving the use of pitons or damaging bolts is allowed. There is no developed campground for car camping, but there are a couple of back country campsites.
When To Climb
All season. Some weekends you will encounter large crowds on the summit and along the Pinnacle Trail. Mid-week you can sometimes have the mountain pretty much to yourself, even in the summer. However, since the park is surrounded by two large urban centers (Charlotte and Gastonia), the moutain is sometimes very crowded.
The principal trail, The Pinnacle Trail, is 1.7 miles long and is fairly strenuous. Before the park officially bought the top of the mountain, the old trail used a route that went straight up, hand over hand climbing. The new, official trail is all walkup, although very steep in parts.
CampingWalk-in, or hike in camping. There is a $9.00 charge per night, per site. There is drinking water and pit toilets at the sites.
- Crowder's Mountain State Park, official site.
Official NC State website for Crowder's Mountain State Park.