Rising abruptly from the landscape at over 2,000 feet, Pilot Mountain has been a navigational landmark for centuries, and today, the mountain summit known as the Lookout serves as the centerpiece of Pilot Mountain State Park, offering practically endless views of Piedmont, Sauratown Mountains, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not only can visitors look forward to those spectacular vistas, but they’ll find an abundance of other things to see and do.
While the Pilot Mountain Lookout is the highlight of this state park, it’s also home to miles and miles of scenic hiking trails, connected to the Yadkin River section by a 6.5-mile trail corridor. The extensive trail network features a bridle trail and a canoe trail section along the river, while rock climbing and rappelling are popular on sections of the steep cliffs. Fishing enthusiasts can cast a line from the river banks in hopes of reeling in a meal of sunfish, crappie or catfish.
Canoers can paddle the Yadkin River that flows through the park on a segment of the Yadkin River Canoe Trail, a 165-mile trail that follows the course of the river which includes 38 canoe access sites. The two-mile section of the river in the park, is considered one of its most scenic stretches, with huge river birches hanging over the water and sycamores doting the banks. There are two small islands in the river that can be reached by wading, canoe or on horseback.
The park is also a great place for a picnic, with three areas providing a choice of shady spots for scenic dining, all including picnic tables and grills. The two picnic grounds in the Yadkin River section of the park are situated about a half-mile from the river banks, with those on the north shore set in an open grassy area along Horne Creek. Another similar facility can be found on the south shore of the Yadkin.
In addition to offering the opportunity for a variety of outdoor adventure, Pilot Mountain has a fascinating history that’s sure to interest the history buff. The earliest known inhabitants of the region, the native Saura Indians, called the mountain Jomeokee, the “Great Guide” or “Pilot.”
It guided Native Americans as well as early European hunters along a north-south path. The Sauras were eventually driven south by the Cherokees, who then occupied the area. Turbulence during the colonial times kept the population sparse until the region was mapped out in the mid-18th-century by Peter Jefferson, father of President Thomas Jefferson, and Joshua Fry. In 1968, it became the state’s 14th state park.
A variety of camping options are available at Pilot Mountain State Park, with the lower slopes of the mountain housing a family camping area that hosts 49 sites for tents and trailers, scattered among the hickory and oak trees.
Youth groups have a camping area on the north side of the Yadkin River, while canoe camping is available on the Yadkin Islands. Canoers can hop out of their vessel and spend the night surrounded by water, in one of two wilderness campsites that sit on the larger of the two islands.
Pilot Mountain State Park is located in Pinnacle, North Carolina, 14 miles south of Mount Airy.
- Address: at 1792 Pilot Knob Park Road, Pinnacle, NC
- Phone: 336-325-2355