Pilot Mountain State Park, 1792 Pilot Knob Park Road, Pinnacle, NC 27043
Distance: 3 miles (6 miles round trip)
Elevation: 2421 feet (1335 elevation change hike)
View: 270-degree Panoramic
Worth it: Yes (5 stars)
Moriah and I took a trip to North Carolina, because when you have a weekend free and a travel bug, you may as well pick somewhere to go. We explored several places, saw lots of sights, and didn’t lock our keys inside our generous Airbnb host’s house when we left.
We swung by Pilot Mountain on our drive home, because what good is a nice day without a hike?
The mountain is quite recognizable–unmissable thanks to its cap there on its head. The view from the highway is impressive, and its summit doesn’t disappoint. Before you visit, though, you should know that there are approximately 7000 trails you could take and not all of them lead you to the summit. There’s a horse trail, walking trails, hiking trails, climbing trails, drives to an overlook, and more–so decide what you want and where you want to go or you might end up in the wrong spot. Moriah and I decided on Grindstone Trail, which is about 3 miles and marked with blue blazes. This one gets you to the top.
Also be warned: there are several places to park in order to start your hike on Grindstone Trail, and if you decide to start at the first parking lot, the blue blaze trail is going to weave back and forth across the road a couple of times and you might have a little bit of trouble finding the right way. We wandered one miss-trail, backtracked, and found the right way after walking through another parking lot, but after that, we were mostly good. Just keep to the blue markers, ignore crisscrossing trails, and you’ll be all set. (There are maps if you happen to get lost, too. Stop freaking out.)
The walk is lovely, and really not all that difficult in most parts. There are a couple of steep inclines that made us thirsty, but most of the difficulty is found at the top of the hike where it becomes steeper with large steps to scale (once you get here, however, there are plenty of places to stop, rest, and enjoy the view–so is it really that hard? I think not). You don’t really feel as though you’re out in the rural wild since you have a view of the road for a bit of the hike, and there seem to always be fellow hikers around, but that doesn’t lessen its impressiveness at the top.
Pilot Mountain is understandably popular and even though we explored a lot, we left a lot undiscovered. Since I didn’t bring Noah with me on this trip, I’m about 99% certain he’ll want to go see what I saw. We’ll surely discover more of the mountain then.
I know I keep ending my hiking reviews with ravings about how beautiful they were and how important it is for you to go, but truly: If you’re ever near Pinnacles, North Carolina, and you have a few hours to spare, visit Pilot Mountain and you won’t be disappointed.
If Noah insists on going there, I’ll doubtfully say no.