South Mountain State Park MTB Loop

Consensus:    (details)
  3.0 from 2 votes
blueBlack  Intermediate/Difficult from 2 votes
Rank: #1 in the South Mountains State Park area
#62 in NC, #2,296 Overall
Views: 1,524. Last 30 days: 73
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Featured Ride in the area near Salem,
“A great workout. Strenuous/hard climbs and fast descents on washed out forestry roads.”
Freddie Carpenter on Nov 12, 2013
Getting There     GPX File     Print
16.326.2 milesKilometers 2,342’714 m Ascent 2,786’849 m High 5% Avg Grade (3°)
0% Singletrack -2,343’-714 m Descent 1,343’409 m Low 28% Max Grade (16°)
Must walk bike through first picnic area. Recommended registration at box located at corner of parking lot in case of emergency.
This loop utilizes several trails & old forestry roads: High Shoals Falls Loop Trail, Headquarters (HQ)Trail, Upper Falls Trail twice, Lower CCC Trail, Benn Knob Trail and Raven Rock Trail. This is a very strenuous ride with nearly 3500 feet of climbing. This is not a singletrack mountain bike trail but is a great endurance workout. The old washed out forestry roads make for some good downhill. Unless you have a heart like a horse plan to walk-a-bike.

This area really functions as a single trail, be aware no other trails are open to bikes. Only the loop.
Need To Know
There is a mile of paved road after you turn on to Raven Rock Trail (keep going straight). You'll see a few houses and water tank on this road. There is one creek crossing around 13 miles in.
The ride is approx. 17 miles. From trailhead, walk your bike through the picnic area continue ahead on High Shoals Falls Loop Trail for 1/2 mile, this trail will continue on to the falls. You must turn right on to Headquarters (HQ) Trail.

HQ is the first climb and is a good example for the ride to come. You'll be along the ridge line and the trail will continue with moderate climbs and descents. At the T intersection with Upper Falls Trail go right. Right is the most used direction for the loop.

Continue straight on Upper Falls Trail for 1.9 miles. You'll pass a few trails, keep going to Lower CCC Trail intersection.

Turn left on Lower CCC trail and continue 2 miles to Benn Knob Trail intersection.

Benn Knob Trail will continue straight ahead for 2.9 miles to crest of Benn Knob . Go around the gate, soon the trail will intersect with Raven Rock Trail.

Take sharp left turn onto Raven Rock Trail, Part of Raven Rock Trail is paved. Other paved roads will lead down mountain to your right however these are very steep and are a dead end. Stay on Raven Rock Trail. Continue 3.1 miles, after pavement stops you'll pass Saddleback Trail on your right. You'll come back to Upper Falls Trail on your left. Take a left onto Upper Falls and continue straight.

After 0.5 mile, you'll have a wet river crossing. Then pass through Upper Falls Campsites. Just past the campsites, the trail will split 45 meters ahead.

The High Shoals Waterfall will be to your right and bikers can park and walk down to the top of the falls. Continue left on Upper Falls for 1.2 miles. This is the hardest climb of the ride. As you are coming to the crest of this trail you can look to your left to see Benn Knob and the ridge line you just came across. Soon you'll come down a grade to the intersection with HQ (Headquarters Trail).

Turn right onto Headquarters Trail descending 2.4 miles back down to the Jacob Fork Parking Area. This descent will be steep for 1.2 miles.
History & Background
Benn Knob is one of the highest points in the park. There used to be a fire tower located here but was removed in the early 90s. High Shoals Falls - 80 foot waterfall. In the late 1800s, there was a corn mill and homestead located above the falls, nothing remains. For many years, the Falls was a nesting site for ravens. High visitor activity has led to the decline of nesting. The park and forestry roads were originally built by Civilian Conservation Corps but is now a N.C. State Park.
Land Manager: North Carolina State Parks
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PHOTOS of South Mountain State Park MTB Loop
  2.7 from 3 votes
Raven Rock Trail doesn't get a lot of use. Beautifully overgrown and sec... (Salem, NC)
  2.7 from 3 votes
There are about 4-5 views like this on the ride. This is the first, and ... (Salem, NC)
  2.0 from 3 votes
Mile or so of blacktop with some pretty steep hills. (Salem, NC)
  2.0 from 3 votes
Jacobs Fork Crossing (Salem, NC)
  1.3 from 3 votes
Benn Knob (Salem, NC)