How many times have you driven south on Interstate 85, passed the road sign that reads “Kings Mountain National Military Park” and said, I’m stopping there next time?
I did it for more years than I care to remember. Finally, I made it the destination for my birthday. I love discovering parks that are new to me, so a visit to Kings Mountain NMP was the perfect present.
The 3,945-acre park is located in Blacksburg, South Carolina, and is adjacent to Kings Mountain State Park. The visitor center has a small museum, free 30-minute film about the Battle of Kings Mountain and a bookstore.
On October 7, 1780, The Battle of Kings Mountain was fought between 1,100 loyalists (pro-England) and 900 patriots (pro-America). The patriots won by employing guerilla tactics used on the frontier. It was a big victory for the Revolutionary War, wiping out Crown General Lord Cornwallis’ left flank. Thomas Jefferson called it “The turn of the tide of success.”
Leah Taber, park ranger, said, “Most people don’t realize how instrumental the South was in the American Revolution. Kings Mountain helped to tell a piece of that story and it is a very important piece of that story. It is here that things got started in a domino effect where you have Kings Mountain, then Cowpens, then Guildford Courthouse, leading on up to Yorktown.”
We had a perfect fall day when we visited the park. We took our time checking out the visitor’s center, asking questions of the ranger on duty and watching the film.
It took us about an hour to walk the paved Battlefield Trail. It follows the top of the ridge where the actual battle took place and provides a challenging hike up a steep incline in a few spots.
Our day ended with a picnic on the grassy field outside the visitor’s center. Tables and grills are not available in Kings Mountain NMP. A portable hammock would work well in this wooded area.
If you want more than a two- or three-hour day trip, check out the 16 miles of hiking trails at Kings Mountain NMP) and Kings Mountain State Park. Register at the visitor’s center before hiking the backcountry trails.
Got a horse? There are 16 miles of horse trails between the two parks.
Overnight accommodations come in the form of primitive backcountry camping. Check with the ranger for a free permit.
The park has a full calendar of events, which are updated on the park’s Facebook page. Look for summer concerts, ranger talks, military encampments and ranger-led hikes.
- Listen to the “Cell Phone Tour Audio” at each station on the 1.5-mile Battlefield Trail.
- Watch the 26-minute video in the visitor’s center.
- Check the schedule for weekend weapons demonstrations.
- Visit the 1803 stone Howser House on special event days.
- Hike the 30+ miles of trail around Kings Mountain with the Huzzah Hikers, a family-friendly group.
- Gaze at the stars with the Carolina Skygazers Astronomy Club on September 16 and October 14, 2017.
- Enjoy the Nature and Heritage Festival on Sept.16, 2017
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Open daily.
Extended hours on weekends Memorial Day through Labor Day: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Closed Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day.
Admission and parking are free.
Photos: Vanessa Infanzon