If you’ve never heard of Kings Mountain State Park or maybe it’s crossed your radar and you want to learn more, we’ve got all the details on why this park is a history-lover’s paradise that also has lakes, hiking trails, and equestrian trails.
During the novel coronavirus pandemic, I was specifically searching out less traveled hiking trails and state parks that I could take my kids to and still adhere to social distancing. Since my third grader is studying South Carolina state history, I was hoping to throw in a few places that could also serve as teaching lessons. Kings Mountain State Park fits both those goals.
Just a note: this article is being published during the coronavirus pandemic and all South Carolina State Parks are operating with entry restrictions and modified hours. Please check the park website before you visit. The National Park is open but the visitors center and restrooms are closed.
A State Park and a National Park
Kings Mountain is the site of the Revolutionary War battle that took place on October 7, 1780. Thomas Jefferson called it “The turn of the tide of success.” It was the first major battle the Patriots won over the Loyalists since the British invaded Charleston in May of that year. So this was a big deal. It was also fought between Americans except for Patrick Ferguson, a British national, who led the Loyalists in the battle and ultimately perished on that day.
The Kings Mountain State Park and the Kings Mountain National Military Park are right next to each other. Coming from Greenville up I85, I had to drive through the national park to get to the state park and was momentarily confused I had messed up directions somewhere. You also cross into North Carolina and then back into South Carolina to get to the park so I was sure I had went the wrong way. But I didn’t!
There is a visitors center at the National Military Park where you can watch a video about the battle and learn more about the history. It has artifacts and exhibits talking about the battle but it was closed when we went because of the pandemic. There are restrooms and an amphitheater for events there as well.
Kings Mountain State Park
Kings Mountain State Park is one of the 47 South Carolina State Parks and one of 16 that the Civilian Conservation Corps had a hand in building during the Great Depression. It’s located a little over an hour from Greenville past Gaffney.
The park has a really neat Living History Farm that shows that a Carolina farmstead may have looked like in the Upstate during the revolutionary era. There is a two-story farmhouse, barn, smokehouse, carpenter/blacksmith shop, sorghum mill and cooker, corncrib, and cotton gin. My kids loved checking out these structures and reading the informational stands along the way.
There are events that highlight the farm and what it was like living there so be sure to check the website for updated information and dates.
Kings Mountain State Park also has 20 miles of equestrian trails, a 1.2 mile nature trail, and 16-mile hiking loop of moderate difficulty.
Two lakes are part of the state park and you can either rent canoes and kayaks or launch personal non-motorized boats for a small fee. You can fish in these lakes but no swimming is allowed.
Picnic shelters, a playground, volleyball court, basketball court and ping pong table are available for use for guests when covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
If you like to camp, that’s also available at Kings Mountain State Park. There are 15 equestrian campsites for $12/night per site. There are 115 standard camping sites with electricity and water and 10 tent sites without water and electricity. The park can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet as well. For groups of up to 30 people, the primitive camping site serves them well as there is water and toilets nearby.
There is a small fee to enter the state park. If you have a State Park Passport, then it’s free.
Walk the Kings Mountain Battlefield
The Kings Mountain Battlefield Trail is located within the Kings Mountain National Military Park adjacent to the state park. There is no fee for the military park.
The 1.5 mile battlefield trail is rubber-paved and takes you through the forest and along the ridge where the battle between the Loyalists and Patriots took place on October 7, 1780. It’s a foot traffic trail only except for motorized wheelchairs. You could take a stroller but you’d need to be careful because there are hills.
I loved this trail and my kids really enjoyed the nature walk combined with the historical aspect. There are several information stands along the way that tell you what happened right where you are walking. There is even a phone number you can call for an audio tour.
There are several monuments along the way, including the Centennial Monument, U.S. Monument and Ferguson’s Grave. One of them that looks identical to the Washington Monument except on a smaller scale. My kids were convinced it was a pencil.
We all really enjoyed the trail and learning component. We even got to see where President Hoover stood to address a huge crowd of 70,000 in the forest to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle. And the trail is so peaceful and quiet despite what happened there more than 200 years ago.
Perfect for Field Trips
Kings Mountain National Military Park is ideal for field trips. They even have a curriculum filled with materials for learning (looking at you, homeschoolers) and a Traveling Trunk that has lesson plans, 18th century clothes, and games. I don’t think I’ve seen this kind of educational opportunities anywhere in the Upstate. If I’m missing those places, tell me in the comments!
I didn’t know about any of this until after I went to the battlefield but I do plan to return and check out some of these learning materials. I’m a big advocate of kids experiencing history rather than learning about it in books. You can do both, of course, but for me personally, I will remember something I learned if I went to see where it happened and saw artifacts or things from the place itself. I love those kinds of history lessons.
Have you been to either Kings Mountain National Park or Kings Mountain State Park?
Kings Mountain State Park
1277 Park Road, Blacksburg, SC
Kings Mountain National Military Park
2625 Park Road, Blacksburg, SC