North Carolina is a dream come true for many outdoor enthusiasts. With the Appalachian Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains nearby, there are plenty of places to climb (or view) those magnificent wonders. If you are ready, pack your gear and check out these great spots to see the mountains of North Carolina.
Looking Glass Wall – Brevard
If you are looking to climb some rocks in the Blue Ridge Mountains area, then you will want to head over to the Looking Glass Wall. This area might be the most iconic climbing area in the state. The 600-foot granite rock sticks out of the center of the Pisgah National Forest. It is known as the best place for both beginners and advanced climbers. Most of the climbing routes feature grades of 5.10 to 5.12. You can get some scenic views of the surrounding areas on the routes known as Crownflake Crack, the Glass Menagerie, and Bombelay. For those wanting to view Looking Glass Wall from a distance, you can stay at one of the many campsites in Pisgah. There are also plenty of spots to take your mountain bike to get a unique view of the national forest. However, be aware that the area can close due to the peregrine falcons’ nesting season.
Stone Mountain – Allegheny County
In the middle of Stone Mountain State Park, you will find an exposed granite mountain. This structure dates back to the Devonian age, and it is composed of granodiorite and diorite. Stone Mountain is the best specimen of monadnock in the state. For that reason, the mountain was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1974. You cannot miss Stone Mountain as it rises over 2,305 feet above sea level.
Along with that, this spot is another great place for rock climbing. If you are looking for the best time to tackle the mountain, then you will want to head here in the winter. During that time, the humidity is lower, and the rocks are stickier for a better grip. The Great Arch is one of the most visible spots in the park. It might not be the easiest route to tackle, but it is the most iconic climb on the entire mountain.
For those wanting to stay on the ground, Stone Mountain is a beautiful place to fish, camp, or picnic. If you’re going to head out and explore, there are 18 miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding. You can even explore a restored mid-19th century farm known as Hutchinson Homestead. The picnic and camping areas do fill up quickly throughout the year, and it offers accommodations for both primitive campers and RVs.
Pilot Mountain – Surry County
Another monadnock in the state is called Pilot Mountain. This quartzite rises 2,421 feet above sea level, and it is the remnant of the isolated Sauratown Mountains range. The mountain is known for its two distinctive features: the Big Pinnacle (The Knob) and Little Pinnacle. These spots have colorful bare rocks with rounded tops and vegetation. If you want a more relaxed journey, you can take the paved road up to the campgrounds and visitor center. Some trails will allow you to head over the Little Pinnacle Overlook and several viewing stations in the area. From this spot, you can also visit the Horne Creek Living Historical Farm.
If you are looking to scale the mountain, it does offer steep grades and routes. However, if you are a beginner, there are some spots for you to try different top-rope options and grades. For those feeling more adventurous, the Amphitheater is the perfect place to conquer those sport routes. During the weekends, this spot can be bustling. For the best climbs, you will want to visit in the spring and fall as the temperatures start to fall.
The Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the most visited and highest ranges in the United States. Throughout the park, you can find about 25 peaks over 6000 feet. This range extends from the Pigeon River gorge and heads over 70 miles to the Little Tennessee River. If you are a hiker, the Appalachian Trail travels across the spine of the mountain range. You will cross peaks like Clingmans Dome, Thunderhead Mountain, Charlies bunion, Old Black, and Mount Cammerer.
For those wanting to climb the Smokies, there are several challenging mountain tops for you to scale. Since this national park is massive, you can find a quiet spot to try your hand at the park’s routes. In addition to the climbs, there are 114 shelters and backcountry campsites for those heading on the trails. Before you settle down for the night, you will need to check into the visitor center or ranger station for a free permit. The Great Smoky Mountains offer more than just hiking or mountain climbing. Some of these activities include horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and mountain biking.
Crowders Mountain – Gaston County
Located in Crowders Mountain State Park, Crowders Mountain rises up 800 feet from the ground. Named after Crowders Creek, and it was once the hunting grounds for the Cherokee and Catawba Indians. The park opened to the public in 1974, and it quickly became a popular rock climbing spot. Crowders Mountains’ cliffs are 100 to 150 feet in height. There is another monadnock called The Pinnacle, but no climbing is allowed on the structure. Crowders Mountain gets congested on the weekends, so you might want to head over there during the weekdays. For those climbers, you will need to obtain a free permit from the park rangers. Hikers are in luck. Several trails will lead to the summits on The Pinnacle and Crowders Mountains. On clear days, you can even see the skyscrapers in the city of Charlotte.
North Carolina is the home of many magnificent mountains and challenging cliffs. This state is one of the best places in the United States to set out for your next outdoor adventure.