Pilot Mountain (North Carolina)

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This article is about the mountain. For the town, see Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. For the park, see Pilot Mountain State Park.
Pilot Mountain
Pilot Mtn Knob 2.JPG
The Big Pinnacle of Pilot Mountain, as viewed from Little Pinnacle Overlook.
Elevation 2,421 ft (738 m)
Pilot Mountain is located in North Carolina
Pilot Mountain
Pilot Mountain
Location in North Carolina
Location Surry County, North Carolina, U.S.
Range Sauratown Mountains
Coordinates 36°20′24″N 80°28′27″W / 36.3401384°N 80.4742242°W / 36.3401384; -80.4742242Coordinates: 36°20′24″N 80°28′27″W / 36.3401384°N 80.4742242°W / 36.3401384; -80.4742242
Topo map USGS Pinnacle
Easiest route Goldilocks, Grandpa's Belay. Big Pinnacle is closed to climbing.
Designated: 1974

Pilot Mountain, a metamorphic quartzite monadnock rising to a peak 2,421 feet (738 m) above sea level, is one of the most distinctive natural features in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is a remnant of the ancient chain of Sauratown Mountains.[1] The Saura were the earliest known inhabitants of the region[1] and called the mountain Jomeokee, meaning "'great guide".[1]

U.S. Route 52 passes by this mountain. The town of Pilot Mountain is near the mountain on US 52. The city of Mount Airy, known for its rock quarries and as the birthplace of actor Andy Griffith, who has a TV series named for him, is some miles farther north.

Pilot Mountain is part of the A.V.A Yadkin Valley This American Viticultural Area has over 50 wineries. A few wineries are located in the Town of Pilot Mountain, including JOLO Winery & Vineyards.

Pilot Mountain from the south on U.S. Route 52

Pilot Mountain has two distinctive features, named Big and Little Pinnacle. Big Pinnacle (also called "The Knob") has high and colorful bare rock walls, with a rounded top covered by vegetation, reaching approximately 1,400 feet (430 m) above the surrounding terrain. Visitors can take a paved road to the park visitor center and campgrounds, then up to a parking lot on the ridge. Trails from there allow access to the main Little Pinnacle Overlook and other viewing stations.

Pilot Mountain is part of Pilot Mountain State Park, which extends to the Yadkin River via a corridor of land, and it is associated with nearby Horne Creek Living Historical Farm. The curved depression between the ridge slope to the Little Pinnacle and then to the round knob of the Big Pinnacle gives the entire mountain an even more distinctive shape from a distance. Other interesting rock formations are to the east at privately held Sauratown Mountain, and the higher complex at Hanging Rock State Park.


The Jomeokee Trail leads around the base of Big Pinnacle. The Ledge Spring Trail goes past a large picnic area and down along the ridge crest; its lower loop back up past a small perennial spring follows a long cliff that is a popular location for rock climbing. Big Pinnacle is closed to climbing. Other trails include Sassafras trail, and Grindstone Trail which connects the popular campground to Ledge Spring Trail. Mountain Trail follows up the other side of the ridge to also connect to Ledge Spring Trail. The Grassy Ridge Trail follows along the mountain's base, connecting the lower ends of the Mountain and Grindstone Trails together. The Grassy Ridge Trail also connects to the Corridor Trail, which goes to the park's river section, and it connects to the Mountains-to-Sea and Sauratown Trails, which go to Hanging Rock State Park.[1][2]

Forest fire[edit]

Pilot Mountain Fire as seen from Pinnacle Hotel Rd

On November 8, 2012 at 10:00 A.M. EST, authorities started a controlled burn to get rid of brush in a 180-acre area. They intended the fire to burn until 4:00 PM, but embers jumped the fire line and started a fire on the other side. As a result, the fire quickly grew out of control.[3] Over 500 acres of forest on the mountain burned as authorities scrambled to build a new fire line to prevent the blaze from reaching the bottom of the mountain.[4]

Representation in popular media[edit]

Mount Airy was the basis for the fictional town of Mayberry on the TV classic The Andy Griffith Show. The fictional city of Mount Pilot, which was often mentioned on the same show, was named in honor of Pilot Mountain.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Biggs, Jr., Walter C.; Parnell, James F. (1993) [1989]. "Piedmont". State Parks of North Carolina (2nd ed.). Winston-Salem, North Carolina: John F. Blair. pp. 176–187. ISBN 0-89587-071-1. "Pilot Mountain, like the rocky escarpments in nearby Hanging Rock State Park, is a remnant of the ancient Sauratown Mountain range." 
  2. ^ Lynch, Ida Phillips; Pendergraft, Bill (2007). "Piedmont". North Carolina State Parks: A Niche Guide. Design by Leesa Brinkley Graphic Design. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Niche Publishing. pp. 58–59. ISBN 978-0-9794591-0-8. "Like nearby Hanging Rock, this monadnock is a remnant of the ancient Sauratown Mountain range." 
  3. ^ "Fire on Pilot Mountain: 'we can't get at it'". Winston-Salem Journal. 2012-11-09. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  4. ^ "Pilot Mountain fire mostly contained, 675 acres burned". WXII 12 News. 2012-11-13. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 

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