Crowders Mountain State Park is a popular hiking, running, and rock climbing area. Most people head straight for the highest peak, Crowders Mountain itself, but this run goes to the top of The Pinnacle, a smaller, easier to reach peak with nice views. The last fifty yards to the top are steep, and the warning signs you'll see at the top are correct. People have died there, so be careful and keep children away from ledges. This track follows a way to the very top that shows a view to the south and avoids scrambling over rocks. On the return trip, it follow the Turnback Trail
for a change of scenery.
Though relatively short and well-shaded, this is not a run to forget water on. Summers are steamy hot here, and these hills aren't high enough to get a cooling effect. The steeper sections are off-camber, so watch your step.
Start from the visitors center at the Sparrow Springs Access area. There is plenty of parking, some nice displays at the visitors center, a small lake, and access to backpacking campsites. More information about Crowder Mountain State Park can be found at the park's official website
Warming up with a level run from the left side of the visitor's center. You soon come to a T intersection. Going right takes you on the preferred run to the top of Crowders Mountain, a longer run. This run goes left and ascends gently to a rocky ridge. After going over several rocky sections, you come to a small saddle where the Turnback Trail
connects. Continuing uphill, the trail steepens, takes a switchback to the left and steepens yet again. This is typically where you see trail runners huffing steadily past, and out-of-shape folks bending over trying to catch their breath.
But the trail steepens yet again! To the left you'll see the Ridgeline Trail
that leads to Kings Mountain in South Carolina, but you'll turn right up the steepest part. Not to worry, as you soon reach the end of the official trail. Climb over the rocks to reach the peak, or go left and around for an easier trail up. There are always opportunities to demonstrate stewardship in this area, so its good to bring a plastic bag for trash.
On the way back down, turn right onto the Turnback Trail
and descend easily. This passes the picnic area and meets the Fern Trail. Go left when you see a road ahead, and left again at the sign about ferns. You end up at a small meadow beside the visitors center.