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Pilot Mountain

Pilot Mountain

Pilot Mountain

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: North Carolina, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 36.34000°N / 80.474°W

Object Title: Pilot Mountain

Elevation: 2420 ft / 738 m


Page By: BobSmith

Created/Edited: Jun 10, 2004 / Mar 14, 2013

Object ID: 152707

Hits: 14524 

Page Score: 82.48%  - 15 Votes 

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Pilot Mountain is not just another North Carolina monadnock (of which there are many). It is the most imposing of all such peaks in the state. Only 2,420 feet above sea level, it rises over 1,400 feet above the flatlands around it. It completely and totally dominates the skyline for dozens of miles in every direction. Indeed, its name, "Pilot" is a translation from the Saura Indian language. They called it "The Guide", and so the Anglos who invaded changed it to "Pilot".

Pilot Mountain is composed mainly of quartzite, and so it has resisted the forces of erosion that have sent all of the earth around it to the sea long go. It is criss-crossed with a number of trails that give one access to both the east and west flanks of the peak.

The cliffs of Big Pinnacle....

Getting There

From I-40 take 52 north. Pass through Winston Salem and continue north to the Pilot Mountain State Park exit.

Pilot Mountain from Highway...
From the highway.

Red Tape

There are no fees to enter the park. There are no fees to hike or to rock climb. The park does request that all rock climbers register; either at the office or at a self-registration box on the summit.

There is no rock climbing allowed on the Big Pinnacle. Also, NO ONE is allowed on the very top of the summit. It is completely and totally off limits due to the fragility of five rare plant communities there, and for the fact that it is a Raven breeding ground. Trespassers will be prosecuted.

When To Climb

Any time of year.

The two main trails are the Mountain Trail (2.5 miles, strenuous, total elevation gain of 1400 feet); and the Grindstone Trail (2.0 miles, strenuous, total elevation gain of 1000 feet).

A trail map can be found here.

You can also drive to the top, but it's not as much fun as hiking there.


There is a developed campground. Charges there are $15 per day, or $10 per day for senior citizens.

Mountain Conditions

Check the weather for Mount Airy. Subtract, perhaps, a degree or two for the summit.

External Links

            Climbing Guide       
           An excellent guide to climbing Pilot Mountain.

A cliff near the terminus of...


The cliffs of Big Pinnacle....The peak, also called "Big...Along the Ledge Spring Trail,...A cliff near the terminus of...This little brown toad was in...Pilot Mountain<br />
Pilot Mountain from Highway...
A deep gully along the...I finally figured out how to...Pilot Mountain from a nearby...View from Pilot MountainClimb!<br />
Typical view along the...One of the big walls along...
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