Elevation: 1850 ft (564 m)
East Peak: N46 47.369 W84 19.180
West Peak: N46 47.372 W84 19.608
Parking lot: N46 47.165 W84 21.172
Distance hiked: 20.3 km
Today I declared myself king of King Mountain.
I arrived yesterday afternoon from Ottawa for a family wedding and decided to take advantage of the great weather and some free time. I parked the van at the Stokely Creek Lodge to find an empty bus and dozens of abandoned camping chairs. I assumed they were some Boy Scouts in the area but I was soon proved wrong when I was greeted by 65 college girls (and boys) jogging on the ski trails.
It turns out they were with the Calvin College Cross Country Running clubs in Michigan and were here doing some hard core training in Canada's Great White North. A short chat with the new owner (Gaylen) of the lodge informed me that they had already hiked to the top of the west peak of King Mountain and that they wouldn't be heading up there again this weekend. Perfect. He then gave me a couple of trail maps and an update on some of the repair work they've been undertaking (including the missing bridge which proved to be good intell).
After a few more "good mornings" to the sweaty college girls I was finally on my way.
At some point in the hike I decided I would summit both King Mountain East and King Mountain West to compare both views and get in some training before my next big hike in the Adirondacks. I ended up doing a 20 km loop that brought me first to Mantle Trail and the east lookout and then to King Mountain Trail and the west lookout.
After the huge rainfall the night before the overgrowth on Mantle Trail was sopping wet and I was soon drenched and sloshing in my boots. No matter, I expected as much and it certainly wasn't going to stop me from getting to the top.
East King Mountain view
The east summit had a small but nice view but what was more interesting was finding the remains of an old fire tower. Too bad it wasn't still standing as a 360 view from here would have been spectacular.
West King Mountain view
The west lookout from King Mountain is where all the action is - there was a nice viewing platform with a couple of benches, a plaque dedicated to Stephen Taylor for his work on the Voyageur Trail, and a small hut with a woodstove for those cold cross-country skiers in the winter. I stayed here long enough to snap some photos, dry my socks, and have a small lunch of Pino's Italian sausage and a Blue. A great celebration to the end of summer.