Steep wooded trail, views of High Shoals Falls, extraordinary mountain views
Near: Connellys Springs, NC
Distance: 4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 900 ft
Hike Time: 2.5 hours
Trail Condition: OK, but a few difficult spots
Hike Type: Out and Back
First, pick up a map at the ranger station. Follow HQ trail away from the parking area. After you pass the amphitheater on the left, look for Chestnut Knob trail on the right. Follow Chestnut Knob Trail for half a mile to the Jacob Fork River Gorge Overlook. Note: This first half mile is the steepest and most strenuous section of this trail. Hiking poles are advised.
From this overlook you have nice distant views of the 80 ft. High Shoals Falls. Return to the main trail and walk until you come to a T-intersection. Turn left towards the Chestnut Knob Overlook. At the trail junction with a hiker sign and arrow, turn left and follow the trail to an exposed rock outcrop. Be careful here! Watch your footing! Return back to the parking area along the same route.
The trailhead is located in the Jacob Fork Parking Area at South Mountains State Park. From Morganton, NC, take exit 105 on I-40 and follow the brown and white signs to the park. The park is approximately 20 miles south of I-40. Once you enter the park, drive to the end of the road to the Ranger Station and Jacob Fork Parking Area. (Lat:35.60106 Lon:-81.63342)