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