52 Hike Challenge at Kings Mountain Gateway Trail part of the Carolina Thread Trail

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The Carolina Thread trail has some of my favorite trails so far during this 52 hike challenge. I’m thinking of modifying my personal challenge to include most of these trails so I guess it’s like a challenge within a challenge. When searching for a trail I frequently look at the Carolina Thread Trail’s page and there’s always something interesting. I don’t always search for the same kinds of trails so when the Kings Mountain Gateway Trail came up on the search I wrote it down as a favorite. We finally got to this one and it was a bit of a challenge due to the heat and having the puppy with us.

The area near Kings Mountain is a place that we have been to frequently. I’ve written before about the Kings Mountain Nature Trail and we’ve also visited the Kings Mountain National Military Park. I noticed the sign to the King’s Mountain Gateway trail the last time we were leaving Crowder’s Mountain and driving down I-85. The sign is off of the highway but finding the trail head and parking was a bit of a challenge. We actually passed it the first time and ended up in the town of Kings Mountain. After turning around, we found the parking lot off of Quarry Rd. The trailhead that we chose was off of the parking lot but there is actually another trailhead that starts in Downtown Kings Mountain and goes along the sidewalks and eventually gets to the Gateway Trail parking lot. We didn’t want to walk the downtown part so we skipped that, plus we were already where we wanted to start. When you arrive, you’ll see a building that has the bathrooms. On the side there are a few picnic tables, a kiosk area with maps and a water fountain that has a spot for dogs. We tried to get Layla to drink from that one but because it’s running water and she hates water she wanted no parts of that.

Starting at the trailhead, there is a post that shows a guide of the trail. We had already decided to walk the majority of it but on the sign it shows fitness stations along the way so we tried those out first. This summer is a summer of introducing more outdoor activities and athletic conditioning for us. I’m trying to squeeze in as many athletic activities as I can. My boys are growing but they’re also becoming a bit sedentary and although there are times to be sedentary. I don’t want them to fall into the trap of being sedentary all the time. I always tell them to strive for balance so if they’ve been sitting for an hour, go do something interesting outside for an hour. If it’s hot, I’m more flexible with that but I still try to get them out in the afternoons. This particular day it was hot though so we did travel in the afternoon.

The first station we got to was a balance beam (I think). We tried that one out but the mosquitos started swarming. From there on, we stopped at a few and did the activities quickly and moved on. The trail is deep in the woods and very quiet. I like that. Along the trail, we came to a part that had a large section of tall bamboo. The kids had seen tall bamboo at the U.S. National Whitewater Center trail but these were being cleared so there were a lot laying around on the ground. They, of course, used some as swords to fight off flying bugs. Further down the trail, it forks near the quarry. I believe off to the right would take you across I-85 and is the longer portion of the trail. The trailhead sign said it was a little over 4 miles. In the heat, that day, we decided to keep going along our current trail. We turned left at the fence. There are large caution signs and tall fences that keep you from going near the quarry.

This stretch of trail was the hardest for us because it wasn’t shaded and went up in elevation. We walked all the way up to the top where there is a winding trail and portions where you can see down into the mining areas below. I didn’t get the feeling that we were very high but I definitely kept the kids and the dog away from the edges. At the top, a bench sits at the beginning of a portion of trail that is designated as part of the Butterfly Highway. The Butterfly Highway’s mission and purpose is awesome and since my family and I are nature lovers this  initiative speaks to our hearts. Beginning in a few neighborhoods in Charlotte, NC, residents sought to bring community gardens to areas that were greatly impacted by large growth and land use. These residents began planting gardens in community areas, backyards and parks with plants that encouraged wildlife and attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The project has now grown across the state.

Walking back down the trail I stopped to take some photos and as I looked down at my camera, I noticed I was standing on a small fire ant mound. If you don’t have fire ants in your area, consider yourself lucky. In our area, fire ants are everywhere, especially after it rains. I didn’t even feel the bites but I saw three or four crawling on my ankle and as I stepped back, my ankle started to swell fast! I’ve been bitten by them before in the back yard but I never had a reaction. I kept walking though because I wasn’t in any pain. I knew we had ice in the car so I iced it on the way home.

The entire hike took us a couple of hours. Once we got to a shady part, I stopped to take more photos and post a photo to my Instagram account with my Women Who Hike badge. Earlier that day they posted on their account that they wanted to see photos of us ladies who hike so I took the opportunity. 🙂 Joining that group has inspired me so much to travel more. My bucket list is definitely growing!  Layla, the puppy, was done with all the walking at that point. We carried her a little down the trail because she was hot and thirsty. We tried a second time to get her to drink from the doggie fountain and she wasn’t having it. Keep an eye out for a future blog post where I discuss hiking with dogs.

Trail walking in the afternoons can be a both a blessing and a chore. The temperatures are going down but the bugs are coming out. I’ve written before about how I have the boys carry bug spray etc. in their trail bags. This particular trip, I didn’t bring the bug spray but I made my own. I read about a combination between tea tree essential oil, lavender essential oil and water. I poured a few drops of each in a spray bottle. In comparison to regular bug spray it worked but we did have to reapply often. I don’t really like using a lot of chemicals especially ones with ingredients I can’t pronounce. I’ll probably alternate which ones I use because I really hate the smell of bug spray, I’d rather smell like lavender.

Walking trails along the Carolina Thread Trail is starting to become a priority as far as choosing which ones I want to walk. Their website makes it easy to plan my hikes and their “My Trails” section lets me mark trails as favorites, plan and mark trails as complete. Creating an account is free which is always a plus!  (Note: I am not affiliated with Carolina Thread Trails in any way and have not been compensated for this post. Providing a link to their website is just for your reference)

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