Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kings Mountain Gateway Trail

The Kings Mountain Gateway Trail is a place to come for exercise or to enjoy nature.  The trail head is located on Battleground Blvd. just south of historic downtown Kings Mountain.   Find the trail head on the left just past the field with goats and an emu.  There are picnic tables, restrooms and a water fountain at this location.  I was surprised to find the water fountain turned on at this cold time of year.

Behind the picnic area is a nice short nature trail recently opened.  This trail was a Gold Award project for a Girl Scout and is very well done.  The information signs placed about 20 feet apart tell of the local trees and animals.  The hinged boards over the signs were probably designed to protect them from the weather but I can imagine small children having more fun checking them out that way too.

The trail map appears a little confusing at first but basically there is a level loop of about .8 miles with two optional hill climbs adding about .75 miles each to the walk.  All of the trails are either asphalt or well smoothed out gravel and should present no obstacles.

We started out by taking the right turn just after leaving the parking lot.  As we rounded the first curve we saw a small group of people looking out over the quarry.  They were looking at several bears who appeared to be climbing back  to the woods after enjoying a cold drink from the quarry waters.  We did not expect to see bears here!
Just past this spot we made the left turn and climbed Cardio Hill.  The trail up the hill is well graded gravel with a few "speed bumps" to encourage rain water to run off the trail instead of washing it out.  You will be gaining elevation constantly but the trail is never too steep as you spiral around the hill to the top.  I hoped for better views from the top but you must look between the several varieties of evergreen.  There is a bench at the top for catching your breathe.

Back on the main trail we continued along the side of the quarry following the fence line.  Around the corner is another bench and a choice to turn left and return to parking or continue straight ahead and  up the hill to the Plateau Loop.  The plateau area is more like a meadow area then the heavier woods of the rest of the trail.  I saw several varieties of small birds in this area and was just thinking how it felt like being deeper in the wilderness until a siren began to sound in the nearby town.  As you near the end of the loop and begin to descend the hill you will see evidence on the left that the area beyond the trail is an active quarry.

As we were walking the last gravel section I heard a splash in the drainage area beside the trail and a bird flew up and away.  We are not experts at bird identifying but it was larger then a mockingbird but smaller then a hawk - possibly a falcon or some variety.  A good end to a walk that we thought was only for exercise and turned out to be a lot more interesting.

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