View Full Version : Travel to Piedmont of North Carolina, and Flatlands of Delaware (Mar/Apr 2010)

04-06-2010, 11:06 AM
During this past week we visited family members who live in the piedmont region of North Carolina where it's mostly flat. And, we also visited other family members who live in the State of Delaware where it's really flat!:eek:

Although the initial plan for the North Carolina visit called for a hike in the Mt. Mitchell area, circumstances caused us to considerably scale back our plans. The end result was a very mild-mannered, but enjoyable hike to Pilot Mountain (roughly equivalent to a hike to Mt. Willard here in the Whites).

Pilot Mountain rises to a peak altitude of 2,421 ft, and it falls into the category of a "monadnock" (loosely defined as an isolated mountain remnant standing above the general level of the land because of its greater resistance to erosion). This unusual mountain is believed to be a vestige of the ancient Sauratown Mountain range. The softer peaks in this range eroded away over millions of years.

Pilot Mountain is one of the more distinctive natural features in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, and as such, it served as a landmark to guide Native Americans as well as the early European settlers. The city of Mount Airy, NC is located just a few miles away. This town served as the basis for the fictional town of Mayberry on the TV classic, "The Andy Griffith Show".

So anyway, below is a photo showing Pilot Mountain from the roadside.


Here's a closer look at this mountain as seen from an approach route to it.


It's interesting that you cannot actually go to the top of this mountain. The trail loops around the base of the summit which is about 200 ft above the trail. You might think that there isn't a trail to the top because of the vertical cliff that surrounds the entire summit. That is certainly a factor, but about 40 years ago there was a metal ladder attached to the rockface which allowed you to climb to the top. However, the ladder was eventually removed because of concerns about safety, combined with concerns for the nesting raven population atop the mountain.

Below is a snapshot of a raven coming in for a landing on the mountaintop.


From the trail that encircles the summit of Pilot Mountain, most of the views are overlooking the vast and rather flat piedmont region of central NC.


However, there are a few spots where you can see some other "monadnock" type of mountains rising above the piedmont.


We spotted a rock formation jutting from the cliff face of Pilot Mountain. It ever so slightly resembled the image of our dearly departed "Old Man of the Mountain". Although it is an interesting profile, there will never be another "Old Man"!


Our next stop after North Carolina was the State of Delaware. There are no mountains in DE, nor are there any mountains within an easy drive in any of the surrounding States. However, we did do a nice nature walk on the grounds of a place called Winterthur. Here, there were definite signs of Spring beginning to emerge, as can be seen in the photo below.


Although it in no way resembled our more rustic beaver ponds here in the Whites, there was an attractive pond containing Koi/Japanese Carp (or as I call them, "goldfish"!).


It was a very nice trip and it was certainly great to see family members again. However, it was also great to get back to NH. As is often said, "There's no place like home"!


04-06-2010, 04:22 PM
Hey Pilot Mtn, I've been there before! My Aunt used to live in Winston Salem, so we went there on an absolutely frigid Christmas Eve day. We took the road up...I remember my dad being kind of freaked out by steep road, and the occasional ice.

Nice pictures, and glad you are back home. :)

04-07-2010, 09:24 AM
Hey Pilot Mtn, I've been there before! My Aunt used to live in Winston Salem, so we went there on an absolutely frigid Christmas Eve day. We took the road up...I remember my dad being kind of freaked out by steep road, and the occasional ice.

Nice pictures, and glad you are back home. :)
Hey Phil . . . thanks for the response! That's interesting to hear that you've also done Pilot Mountain.
I'd be interested to know if you (or others) have hiked other mountains within an hour's drive of the Greensboro/Winston-Salem area.
I usually make 2 trips per year down there to visit family. So, it would be fantastic to have some suggestions from a VFTT person who has "boots on the ground" experience with hikes in that vicinity.

06-12-2010, 08:19 AM
I was happy to see this thread, since I knew I would be spending this long weekend in Greensboro, with some time available for hikes. John (1HH) graciously supplemented his two TRs with additional advice, which facilitated my getting the most out of one-hour drives to Pilot Mtn. State Park Thursday afternoon and Hanging Rock St. Pk. (which John described in an earlier thread) yesterday.

Pilot Mtn. certainly dominates the flat Piedmont - a dramatic monadnock capped by Big Pinnacle, which sits on top like a giant cupcake (but has been compared to other things):


There is a big parking area near the summit that suits this Park especially for family trips or limited time. My favorite trail was the Ledge Spring Loop. The upper half coincides with a broad track to a campground to the NW, but the lower half traces the base of a long line of layered, overhung cliffs, favored by rock-climbers and with constant interesting formations, e.g.:


The best vistas, however, can be found on the shorter Little Pinnacle and Sassafras Trails, as John has illustrated above. Both of these Parks are free, including parking, and I encountered not one stinging bug (with no protection). The rest of my pix are here. (http://amicus.smugmug.com/Hiking/2010/Pilot-Mountain-No-Carolina/12508645_CZs3v#896968571_94LrC)