Rock climbing in the Southeastern USA

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North Carolina - Crowder's Mountain


Graphic - image of state of North Carolina. Yellow star shows location of Crowder's Mountain.Location:

Crowders Mountain is near the North Carolina - South Carolina border in Gastonia, just west of Charlotte, NC. Drive time from Columbia, SC is 2 hours; from Greenville, SC: 1.5 hours. Crowders Mountain became a state park in the early 1970's. Recent '2000 land acquisitions now link it with nearby Kings Mountain.

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Photo by Wayne Busch - A view of the broken ridge line atop Crowder's Mountain . Radio towers on summit.Description

Crowder's is geological anomaly ... a substantial hill thrust up over 600 feet from the surrounding flatland (elevation. 1625 ft.). It and its companion, King's Pinnacle (no climbing) are visible for miles around. The summit ridge, accessible by a hiking trail, is a fin of quartzite that ranges from 20 to 200 feet from base to tip. The rock is heavily featured, occasionally fragile and totally unlike the smooth Appalachian sandstone and granite domes found to the west. The striated, layered rock reminds me of petrified wood. Although some routes are crumbly and others quite sharp on the fingers, most of Crowder's offers great, short climbs at many difficulty levels. The area is especially good for top roping because of access trails at the top and bottom of climbs. There are a few bolted routes, but most climbs are traditionally protected, good for sharpening your leading skills. Its close proximity to Charlotte brings lots of climbers (hence the nickname Crowded Mountain), but try weekdays for quiet climbing.

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Directions:

Take I-77 to Charlotte and then I-85 west to Gastonia. Or, from Greenville, stay on I-85 until you enter North Carolina and pass Kings Mountain on your right. Take the Edgewood Road exit and head south. You'll come to a grocery store on your left at US 29/74. Keep going straight as it becomes Whiteside's Road (SR 1122). Go about two miles, catching a good view of Crowder's. When the road ends, turn left and go a short distance to the parking lot on your right. This is the start of the backside trail and the registration point for climbers. To reach the campground, turn right at the end of Whiteside's Road and continue to Sparrow Springs Road. Go left a mile or two and follow the signs to the State Park on your right. From here, you can hike into the climb (follow the guidebook) or drive back around to the parking lot on the backside.

Locator map (TopoZone.com link)

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Photo by Wayne Busch - Chris Braund scrambles across the ridge line atop Crowder's MountainCliff Access:

You MUST register at the Linwood parking lot before climbing, there is no fee. Follow the obvious gravel trail up the backside to the top of the stairs, then follow the ridge line to the Middle Finger arriving near the  Fortress Wall / Gumbies Roof area. A fence has been erected to prevent scrambling and subsequent erosion of the are beneath the Middle Finger wall, stick to the trail. From the top of the stairs, you  are directly above the east-facing Practice Wall. Head back along the summit ridge and you'll see David's Castle off to the right.  You'll soon come to the top of Gumbies roof. The guidebooks are good once you are oriented, but it is difficult at first to recognize the section or area at which you're looking because the ridge line is very jumbled and broken up. When in doubt, ask a local.

Topo map (TopoZone.com link)

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The Climbers Guide to North CarolinaSouthern RockGuidebooks:

The Climbers Guide to North Carolina by Thomas Kelley.

Southern Rock by Chris Hall

Selected Climbs in North Carolina - Yon Lambert and Harrison Shull.

An excellent online route guide is available at Crowders Mountain State Park Travlers Companion

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Land Manager:

Crowders Mountain State Park
522 Park Office Lane
Kings Mountain, NC. 28086
office- (704) 853-5375
fax- (704) 853-5391
e-mail - crowders@vnet.net 
NC Division of Parks and Recreation - Crowders Mountain Site
http://www.ils.unc.edu/parkproject/visit/crmo/home.html

Ranger Matthew K. Derstine is in charge of Rock Climbing Management.

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Photo by Chris Braund - Wayne Busch plays on Finger Crack 5.8 on the Fortress Wall.Emergency Information:

Nearest Hospital: Gaston Memorial - Gastonia. For emergency assistance dial 911 from the pay phone at the Linwood Parking Lot. You are in Gaston County.

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Gear:

Bring top rope setups. It is illegal to sling trees, so bring several long (20 ft+) runners or lengths of webbing to sling the plentiful boulders at the top. Also, bring a typical rack of cams and nuts to augment the top rope anchors or do some leading. There is one section that requires two pitches, all of the rest can be done in a single pitch. Bolted anchors are starting to appear atop some of the most popular routes, and a few bolts will be found on some of the more popular climbs.

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Suggested Climbs:

Options: Top Rope, Sport, Traditional

Middle Finger Wall: Middle Finger 5.7, The Balcony 5.5, Iron Curtain 5.7, Fortress Wall, Gumbies Roof, Middle Finger Backside: Pleasant Dreams 5.8+, Fortress Wall Finger Crack 5.6 and Direct 5.9+, Eye Sockets 5.10+ (key hold now broken) Practice Wall: Burn Crack 5.10, Slimebelly Snakeass Sodhole Skunkpie 5.12-, Gastonia Crack 5.4, Playground 5.9+ David's Castle: Ooga Chocka 5.8

An excellent online route guide is available at Crowders Mountain State Park Travlers Companion

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Facilities:

New bathrooms are being added at the Linwood parking area. Please use them and the recycling bins located at the trailhead. The self registration station is located here. There is primitive camping at Crowder's Mountain State Park (704) 853-5375. The sites are a mile walk from the office parking area. The gate is locked at night, anywhere from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. depending on the season. An alternative is to head back to Charlotte and hit a microbrewery and a Motel 6.

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Photo by Wayne Busch - The Middle Finger Spire at the end of the Middle Finger Wall.Seasons:

You can climb here throughout the year though it gets pretty hot in the summer. Beware of thunderstorms. While Kings Mountain is 100 feet higher, Crowder's Mountain is tipped with numerous large antennae. The rocks dries quickly after rain.

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Access Notes

Crowders Mountain is a short drive for many people in North and South Carolina, rising long before one reaches the start of the large mountain ridges that lie to the west. Because of this it sees a good deal of climbing impact. The park rangers here really make an effort to work with the climbing community. Please recognize the heavy climber impact and presence, stay on the trails, pick up and pack out any trash or butts you find.

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Miscellaneous

You may hear rumors of a group of feral goats that once claimed Crowder's as home, but those days are gone. They have been replaced by lunch thieving raccoons.  Please don't feed them and make the problem worse, watch your food while you're climbing..

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Links

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Trip Reports

7/03/01 3 NC Spots Wayne Busch & Chris Braund Photos - Chris Braund and Wayne Busch hit three North Carolina Climbing spots - Shortoff Mountain, Crowders Mountain, and Rumbling Bald.

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