Cleveland County High Point Trip Report
Benn Knob (2,894 ft)
Date: February 28, 2004
Author: Ron Tagliapietra
We went through South Mountains SP instead of going through the community.
Half of the hike is the same, since the paved Pine Ridge Road in the community is
also a hiking trail for the park (the only paved one). The other half in the
park begins at 1700 feet on a nice trail system, passing High Shoals Falls. It
also offers a backpacking site ($9) at Upper Falls Camp (it's upstream from the
falls at about 2000 feet elevation) about 1.5 miles in. From there, rock hop
Jacob Fork (the creek with the falls) and continue for a half-mile to the Raven
Rock Trail. Take a right and follow it up a half mile to the Dogwood Trail.
You will get to pavement at 0.3 mile and will see a green water tower up to your
right. From the water tower is a view of Benn Knob. The Dogwood Trail is 2.6
miles long (according to the brochure and one of two trail signs) to its end at
the Benn Knob Trail (elevation 2680 feet). Do not follow the Benn Knob Trail,
since it does not summit. Instead follow the left fork road about 0.2 mile up
to the radio tower. You will cross a couple yellow gates in this last stretch.
Backtrack the way you came.
The Dogwood Trail follows Pine Ridge Road from mile 0.3 to its end. Pine Ridge
Road is paved until the last 0.2 mile. The state park permits mountain biking
on several trails including the Dogwood Trail. The map in the park brochure
matches the one on the park's website. (Kevin Williamson got permission to ride
his road bike through the community and up the road.)
A ranger told us that Benn Knob is the highest point in the State Park (though
the park is in Burke County) and that it had no view. We found a partial view
of the Blue Ridge to the west. I don't know the peak with the bare spot but I
think the Black Mountains, including Mt. Mitchell, are visible to the north of
the unknown peak. The ranger also recommended Chestnut Knob viewpoint as the
best view in the park. We hiked the 2 miles to it the next morning (after
camping in the snow at Upper Falls Camp). It is not at the top of the knob but
it offers a great view of Benn Knob and Buffalo Knob (the Lincoln County hp).
If you have binoculars, you can also see Charlotte's skyscrapers rising in the
distance just right of Buffalo Knob. On the way back from the viewpoint,
we also visited the Jacob Fork Gorge Overlook (0.5 mile from car). This overlook
offers a view of all 80 feet of High Shoals Falls (both tiers). It's the best
view of the falls, but requires binoculars to appreciate it.
Trip statistics: 10.6 miles round trip; net elevation gain 1,194 feet.