Pilot Mountain State Park, located in the northern Piedmont area of North Carolina, is recognizable from miles away. The park's namesake peak, also known as Big Pinnacle, dramatically rises 1,400 feet above the valley floor. The trees and vegetation covering the pinnacle's jagged rocks are similar to the plants growing in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. The people of North Carolina are proud of this park and see its growth over the years as a symbol of the preservation of the state's natural beauty.
There's so much natural beauty to enjoy at Pilot Mountain, which is a haven for hikers, trail-riders, rock-climbers, and birdwatchers. In addition to its eponymous mountain, the park boasts thick forests, a beautiful stretch of the Yadkin River, and many miles of trails. Even though all of the park's activities operate year-round, camping within the park is only available on a seasonal basis.
Outdoor enthusiasts of all types will enjoy their stay in Pilot Mountain State Park. The park is unique, and whether you are planning to stay a week, or you are just passing through the area, Pilot Mountain is sure to be one of your favorite RV stops in North Carolina!
The park is 20 miles north of Winston-Salem, NC and 170 miles east of Asheville, NC. Drivers should be aware that the park is broken into two main sections: northern and southern. If you're an RVer wanting to camp or take in the views at Pilot Mountain, you'll want to access the northern, mountainious section of the park, which is also home to the park office. The southern section of the park, just a few miles away, offers some additional hiking trails and access to the Yadkin River.
Visitors shouldn't rely on GPS systems to access the park, as service is unreliable in the area. The mountain is visible from 20 miles away from the highway and serves as a beacon for travelers. The park is adjacent to US 52, and there's ample signage for travelers to follow.
Please stay informed of the posted park hours. For the safety of the people camping, the gates remain locked outside of park hours. Even with reservations, visitors are not allowed to enter the park after closing, and people who visit park patrons will not be able to leave once the gates close. In the case of emergencies, notify the camp hosts, and they can assist you.
The main road into the park does have some steep bits and sharp turns, so take things slow as you approach. Also, if you're traveling during winter, be aware that the area does get (infrequent) snow. Freezing roads after winter rain are another hazard. Stay on top of local weather alerts, though, and you should be fine.
All of Pilot Mountain's sites are back-in, but there's ample space between sites, and maneuvering shouldn't pose much of a problem. Once at the campground, several trailheads, plus the park amphitheater, are within walking distance. RV camping is NOT available at the park's southern portion, though there several lots for passenger vehicles. Keep in mind that the park can get overcrowded most weekends during the busy season. If the park is at capacity, it will close to new visitors until parking space opens up.
Come to the Fancy Gap, Virginia and experience the Blue Ridge Parkway, known as one of “America's most scenic drives.” Other local attractions include the picturesque Mabry Mill, the idyllic community of Meadows of Dan, U-pick orchards, and a winery. At the Fancy Gap/Blue Ridge Parkway KOA, big rigs up to 75 feet in length can be easily accommodated. The campground offers full-hookup sites with their own pet areas, up to 50-amp service, fire pits/rings, and picnic or patio furniture. Buy local produce and whip up healthy meals at the convenient Kamping Kitchen. Stay in touch with family and friends with Wi-Fi and cable TV, or lounge by the pool. Propane and firewood are also available on-site.
Pilot Mountain's rocky campground is set in a heavily wooded area just a mile or so north of Pilot Mountain itself. A thick canopy composed of oaks, hickories, birches, and beeches provides ample shade and helps keeps sites cool even in midsummer.
The Pilot Mountain Family Campground is a pet-friendly, primitive-style campground open from March to November. Campers may choose from 15 back-in gravel sites ranging from 25 to 38 feet in length. Although the sites don't have electric or water hookups, campers have access to community drinking-water spigots located throughout the campground and may fill portable water containers as needed.
The campground has two centrally-located bathhouses and a community dumpster. There is no dump station, although you may find one by heading into a nearby town, such as Pilot Mountain or Mt Airy. Each site has a fire pit, grill, and picnic table. All spots also have flat gravel pits for tent camping.
Hikers will love having easy access to the Grindstone Hiking Trail, which summits Pilot Mountain just two miles from the campground. Campers can purchase firewood from campground hosts. Park gates lock at closing, and there is no entry before or after park hours, so campers need to arrive within the park's operating times to access the campground. Generators are allowed as long as they are turned off during the park's posted quiet hours.
If you're traveling with a canoe or kayak, and if you're looking for some solitude, take advantage of Pilot Mountain's paddle-in sites. The sites (there are just two of them) can be found on the quiet southern bank of the Yadkin River, which passes through the state park's lower unit, just a few miles to the south of Pilot Mountain itself. The nearest boat launch can be found at the end of S.R. 1546; just follow signs to the "Shoals Yadkin River Access." From the launch, campers need only head east along the river for about a quarter-mile. Of course, you need not head straight to camp. There are several small islands to explore along this lovely, forested stretch of the Yadkin.
Pilot Mountain's two paddle-in sites are primitive, offering no electricity, water, or restrooms. Everything is pack-in pack-out, so make sure you leave this beautiful site just as you found it! Spots must be reserved.
The extensive trail system at Pilot Mountain State Park offers hiking opportunities for people of all abilities. Take a strenuous trek along cliffs and ledges on the mile-long Ledge Springs Trail. If you've got more time, take the six-mile Grindstone Trail, which cuts through forest along the northern slopes of Pilot Mountain before spiraling around the west end and driving towards the peak. With over 1,300 feet in total gain, the Grindstone offers a great workout in addition to its great views.
If you're in the mood for something short and easy, take a walk on the Little Pinnacle Overlook Trail. Don't forget your camera, because the Little Pinnacle Overlook Trail has stunning views of the Big Pinnacle!
The trail systems at Pilot Mountain aren't just for hiking. If you're traveling with horses, you should absolutely take advantage of the great equestrian trails. The Corridor Trail snakes for eight miles through forests and fields, heading from the park's northern unit near Pilot Mountain to its southern one on the banks of the Yadkin River. Several other shorter trails are available too.
North Carolina is proud of its state parks. Pilot Mountain State Park wants to share what makes the state park system so great, so it has teamed up with park rangers to offer educational programs to visitors of all ages. If you are planning to visit the park, contact the park office to find out if there is a class that might interest you or your family. Topics include ecology, wildlife biology, geology, and cultural history.
If an organized class isn't your thing, pick up a plant and animal checklist at the park office. Take the family on a self-led scavenger hunt to look for different types of flowers and trees. The mixed hardwood forests here support a tremendous diversity of flora and fauna.
There are no mountain bike trails inside of Pilot Mountain State Park, but the main road leading into the park is a popular destination for road cyclists. This ride is challenging—grades are steep, averaging 10-16% throughout—and should only be undertaken by experienced cyclists. Cyclists should wear proper safety gear and must share the road with vehicles. People on bikes must observe the same traffic rules as cars. Because this road is a high-traffic area, the best time to cycle is during the early morning hours.
If you are looking for a mountain biking spot, try nearby Hanging Rock State Park. Located just a half-hour's drive to the east, Hanging Rock has over ten miles of rugged, single-track biking trails. The Moore's Spring Trail, a rocky rollercoaster that weaves its way through thick woods, is a particularly popular route.
Pilot Mountain has several great places to enjoy a picnic. The park has one scenic picnic area close to the summit. Visitors who wish to secure a sheltered table here, especially if traveling on the weekend, should try to arrive early because the parking spots fill quickly. The summit picnic area has drinking water, several grills, and a vault toilet. Tall pines, oaks, and hickory offer good shade and a great place to take an afternoon nap!
The park also has a picnic area in its lower section. This picnic area, offering the same amenities as the summit picnic area, is located on a meadow near the banks of the Yadkin River - it's a great place to enjoy a meal after paddling on the river or hiking along some of the shoreline trails.
Experienced climbers and rappellers come to Pilot Mountain State Park because of its fun, challenging routes and beautiful scenery. In total, the park boasts about a dozen routes, most of which are on large quartzite.
All climbers must obtain an activity permit from the park before climbing. These permits are free and must be deposited in a registration box in the Summit parking lot or given to a park ranger before activities begin.
Climbers must bring their own safety equipment and climb only in designated areas. The park publishes a free, downloadable guidebook that outlines climbing specifics within the park, and climbers should review it before visiting.
Climbing, hiking, and sightseeing aren't the only draws at Pilot Mountain. Fans of paddling should check out the Yadkin River Canoe Trail. Two miles of the Yadkin River runs through the southern unit of Pilot Mountain State Park, and these two miles include some of the river's most scenic stretches. Sycamore trees line the banks and low-hanging river birch trees shade the shallow waters located within the park. The section of the river accessible inside the park has two small islands that can be reached by canoe, horseback, and wading by foot. A boat launch can be found at the end of S.R. 1546. The park does not offer canoe or kayak rentals, so to explore the Yadkin you'll have to bring your own.