Well for our last day here in the state of North Carolina we took the short drive south in the CRV over to the 3,703-acre Pilot Mountain State Park. After reading the web site it appeared that the best time to go to this state park was any day but on a weekend or holiday since it is a very popular park. After about a fifteen minute drive we turned off the highway and entered the park. There is a short drive up the mountain to the parking lot for hikers. A steep and winding road in thick lush vegetation finally opens up near the summit.
The park has several good hiking trails and it known as a favorite spot for local rock climbers. Not a giant mountain but it does rise to a summit of 2,421 feet above the rolling plains. Pilot Mountain was known well by the Saura Indians as "Jomeokee" since it served as a landmark for the Native Americans as well as early pioneer travelers. Geologically Pilot Mountain is known as a quartzite monadnock.
Most of the trails are easy to moderate and you can even start at the bottom of the mountain and hike a 3.5 mile trail to the top. However after reading reviews about this trail saying hiking up would feel more like hiking six miles we chose not to do this one. Afterall we would also have to hike back down… We chose instead to do the shorter Jomeokee Trail which was an easy to moderate trail that circles around Pilot Mountain's Big Pinnacle. On the way to this trail there are several overlooks that allowing for spectacular panoramic views over the vast valleys below.
As we approached the Big Pinnacle we noticed several Turkey Vultures riding the drafts upward off the face of the cliffs. Probably a great spot to watch for migrating raptors as well. The 8/10 mile hike the knob of Pilot Mountain was a fun hike as we were treated to many angled views of the cliffs in all type of lighting providing many opportunities to try out some creative photography. I mentioned a while back about a plant I kept running into and couldn’t identify. Well I finally figured it out as it is fairly common, the plant is called Sourwood, now I will never forget it. We also saw flowering Mountain Laurels and the small Catawba trees.
After the hike we heading back into the town of Mayberry for one last stroll through town. A nice place to visit after a long day is the Old North State Winery`. The wines here are okay but what I liked was the sampler of beers brewed by Foothills Brewery. A sampler of four beers was only three bucks and I was able to try a Pilsner, a Pale Ale, an India Pale Ale and a Porter. I liked all four of these which is not usually the case. Next time through the Carolinas I will have to try and stop by their brewery.
Our time here has come to a close as we packed up and left Thursday morning and headed to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley to visit dear friends for a few days on our way to Niagara Falls...