JOMEOKEEThe Saura Natives that inhabited this area long before the white man settled here, called this mountain "Jomeokee" which means "great guide". It is easy to see why it became known as Pilot Mountain. It was used by early settlers as a point of navigation as early natives before them. It was an early tourist attraction. Moravian records note many visits there by the brethren, including female students from Salem College. As a young boy, I recall stairs leading to the summit. Only in the 21st century has the domed summit of Pilot Mountain been denied to man. Now a home for birds, it can best be viewed from Little Pinnacle overlook. In the distance are the Suara Sisters Sauratown Mountain, Cooks Wall Mountain and Moore's Knob. On a hot summer afternoon, the Fat Bald White Guy and his Faithful Hiking Companion hiked a trail not normally frequented by visitors: The Mountain Trail, a loop around the base of the mountain
The Mountain Trail is a loop trail around the base of Pilot Mountain. We began at the visitor's center just inside the gate. From there the Mountain Trail runs with the Grindstone Trail. The Grindstone Trail is the 3-mile ascent trail to the top of the mountain. For 1.5 miles, the two trails wind together along many well-designed switchbacks through a forest.
The trail is well marked and maintained. It is moderately strenuous as it snakes along the road which goes to the summit. Along the way there are many nice rock formations to remind you of the age of this mountain. Each serves as silent sentinels to the millenniums. One of the first we encountered had a nice summer growth of grass, growing atop the rock like hair on a person's head.
The trail surprisingly is not a constant ascent, rather it is a series of switchbacks which at one point descends alarmingly before the steep climb begins. On this descent there are some more rock formations worthy of note. One I thought looked like a biscuit fresh from the oven. But my Faithful Hiking Companion saw a face with wide eyes, narrow nose and mouth.
What do you think?
Of course, the Fat Bald White Guy is always looking for a good trail bench and the Grindstone Trail did not disappoint. There was a nice tree arch as well. With the birds chirping, the wooded trail is very serene.
As the Grindstone Trail leaves the rock garden, a steep ascent begins, the trail opens at the intersection where the Mountain Loop Trail diverges from the Grindstone Trail. Go straight here and the summit is 1.5 miles away. We chose to take the trail to the right. The Mountain Loop Trail is part of the Mountain to Sea trail and is blazed with both red and white circles.
The trail heads southeast and soon emerges into a splendid rock garden that looks as if it was recently exposed by a forest fire. The forest cover gives way and the heat of the day beats down. But there were a few nice rock formations.
There is also a few forest windows opening up a view to the surrounding countryside.
The trail which was a fire road narrows considerably as we trekked to the northeast.
At 4.5 mile mark of the hike, we emerged at an intersection of the Mountain Trail and the Corridor Trail. The Corridor trail connects the mountain section of the park with the Yadkin River section. Several helpful signs pointed the way and gave encouraging distance calculations.
It was nice to know that we were only one mile from the visitor's center as I had calculated at least 1.5 miles were left. One of the signs indicated 2.5 miles to the campground and pointed left. I think it would be about 2.0 miles following the trail to the right toward the visitor's center.
It was a 5.75-mile trek around the base of Pilot Mountain. The access to the trail is a 10. Park at the visitor's center and walk across the road. The trail was well marked and maintained. It is listed as strenuous but I believe moderately strenuous is the correct description. Rate the trail as an 9. The scenery was disappointing but then again it is a forest trail. Rate it an 8. Overall an 8+ trail. Great workout better views in the fall I bet.
Little Pinnacle Overlook
Not wanting to leave the mountain without experiencing the incredible view from the Little Pinnacle overlook, we drove to the top of the mountain and trudged the very sociable quarter-mile trail to the Little Pinnacle overlook. Fortunately, the crowds had left and we got a very nice view of the surrounding countryside.
From the various overlooks along the trail, my Faithful Hiking Companion got a number of nice shots. The knob is a bird sanctuary and falcons and turkey buzzards can be seen floating on the air currents around the pinnacles.
The overlook is surrounded by a sturdy wooden fence and I really like the shot she made looking through the slats.
Take a trip to Pilot Mountain State Park. There are many nice hikes, great places to camp and wonderful views. Be it an afternoon or a weekend, you will have a wonderful time.