Two months ago our family headed west to Dobson, NC to visit old neighbors and friends whose son was having a first birthday. Wanting to extend the trip so we could explore more of the Yadkin Valley area, we made it a three-day trip so we could visit Pilot Mountain State Park, the nearby towns, and vineyards. Having passed Pilot Mountain dozens of times via US-52 on our way to Blacksburg, VA we had always wanted to explore this area.
We tried our luck with Airbnb and rented Stony Knoll Vineyards Wine Lodge from the Coe family, a really interesting pre-Civil War log cabin that was renovated in 2007 with all the modern necessities. The cabin sits across the street from Stony Knoll Vineyards, also owned by the Coe family. The cabin, which has been in the Coe family ever since 1896, was the perfect blend of rustic and coziness for our family. It’s a two-story cabin with a king-size bedroom and loft with twin bed upstairs; full bath, double bed, TV/sitting area and fully-equipped kitchen on the first floor.
After a restful sleep on Thursday night we got up early and headed for Pilot Mountain State Park. We made a beginner’s mistake by going to the Bean Shoals Access of Pilot Mountain and after a 20 minute detour we found the main entrance to the park (1792 Pilot Knob Park Road) and winded our way up the 2 mile curvy, paved road past the visitor center to the parking lot at the summit. Pilot Mountain has a uniquely shaped mountaintop, Big Pinnacle, with bare rocks on the steep sides and vegetation covering the top. This mountain is part of the ancient Sauratown Mountains. Big Pinnacle served as a landmark for Indians and pioneer settlers back in the days.
The parking lot area has several overlooks for catching beautiful views of the valleys below and Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. It was a super chilly yet sunny morning so we quickly made our way to the trailhead by following the path behind the bathrooms.
Jomeokee Trail is a short 0.8 mile looped hike around the base of big pinnacle sitting at 2400 ft elevation. To the Saura Indians, the earliest known inhabitants of the area, the mountain was known as Jomeokee, the “Great Guide” or “Pilot.” We headed around the trail counterclockwise, climbing up and down rock steps. There was little up and down terrain on the trail, but the cliff views were impressive to say the least. The trail can get rather narrow and offers some really up close views of the 200 ft Big Pinnacle. After making it about halfway around the base, our crew decided to call it a success and head back, given the cliff views were getting a little too hairy and too close for comfort (there are no railings).
So, we walked back down the main path passing the trailhead to Ledge Spring (1.8 miles, strenuous trail) and Little Pinnacle Overlook (0.1 miles, easy trail). We took the easy, short 0.1 mile walk to the Little Pinnacle Overlook so we could get another great view of Big Pinnacle across the way. Amazed at the massiveness of Big Pinnacle and the valley below, we took in the sights a few minutes more and then sat on a bench near the kid-friendly TRACK trail for lunch.
The kid-friendly TRACK trail follows the moderate 0.3 mile Sassafras Trail along a fire-based ecosystem with great views of Big Pinnacle. It leads to an overlook inhabited at the time by hungry-looking vultures that we avoided! We saw deer and lots of different vegetation along the way. TRACK trail is part of the Kids in Parks initiative that was started in 2008 as a way to encourage families to get outdoors and explore. This regional network of trails has proved so successful it’s expanded to 7 states and DC and includes more than just hiking trails.
After a day of hiking we visited the nearby town of Elkin, NC where we walked around the busy main street area and had a delicious dinner and craft beers at 222 Public House.
Stay tuned for my next post highlighting a different section of Pilot Mountain State Park!
- Pilot Mountain State Park map
- History of Pilot Mountain State Park
- Kids in Parks network of family-friendly adventures
Thumbs up: beautiful views, family-friendly trails, access to overlooks, having public bathrooms at top of mountain, well marked trails and maps
Thumbs down: nothing to report