North Carolina's Foothills and Piedmont Trip Reports

Foothills Photos

Uwharrie Mountains & Sauratown Mountains

Sometimes the prospect of a long drive to the mountains just isn't appealing. On those occasions, it's nice to be able to fall back on something closer to home. Fortunately there are a number of state parks and recreation areas in central North Carolina that provide hiking opportunities. East of Charlotte is the Uwharrie National Forest. It features a network of trails, as well as paddling and mountain biking opportunities. In February of 2000, we survived a loop hike on the Uwharrie and Dutchman's Creek Trails. In January of 2004 we returned to the area and made another loop on the same trails farther north. In December, Joel joined me for a hike on the northern end of the Uwharrie Trail. In November of 2005, I hiked with Myron, Dorcas, Bob, and Laura in the Birkhead Mountain Wilderness. Nearby is Morrow Mountain State Park, where we hiked in December of 1999. We finally made it back to Morrow Mountain in November of 2007. North of Winston-Salem are two more notable state parks. I did quite a bit of hiking in Hanging Rock in my early years. In October of 2006 I returned to the park and hiked to Moores Wall and Cooks Wall. I returned to the park in November, 2009 to check out some waterfalls in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida     Photos. In June, 2015 I hiked with Stephanie and her father Wayne to Cooks Wall in Hanging Rock State Park Hanging Rock Photos.
The Sauratown Mountain Trail connects Hanging Rock State Park with Pilot Mountain State Park.
Our November, 2016 hike in Hanging Rock State Park. Photos.
I haven't hiked the Sauratown Mountain Trail, but we did hike at Pilot Mountain in March of 2003.

Pilot Mountain from Cook's Wall

Crowders Mountain & The South Mountains

South of Statesville, Lake Norman State Park provides a surprisingly pleasant 7 mile trail along a less crowded stretch of the lake. West of Gastonia, Crowders Mountain has 2 rocky summits that rise above the surrounding flatlands. The park's easy access has helped it earn the nickname Crowded Mountain. South of Morganton is the South Mountain Range and South Mountains State Park. We enjoyed mountain views and a waterfall on a hike there in November of 2002. We returned in February of 2004 and explored the Little River section of the park. In May of 2006, I returned to the South Mountains to explore the southern portion of the park In December of 2009, some friends joined me for a hike in the park to Little River Falls.     Photos. I returned to the South Mountains in May, 2010 for a hike up Chestnut Knob.     Photos. In January, 2011, Bob, Joel, and Sam joined me for a hike to High Shoals Falls and Shinny Creek in South Mountains State Park.     Photos. In January, 2011, Jack and Bob S. joined me for an exploratory hike to the headwaters of the Henry Fork in the South Mountains Gamelands.     Photos. We returned to the game lands a month later for an exploratory off-trail hike to an undocumented waterfall on Sally Queen Creek.     Photos. Both Bobs joined me for a an attempt at summitting Buzzards Roost, the highest peak in the South Mountains, in November, 2011.     Photos. In November, 2013 I hiked to High Shoals Falls and Chestnut Knob in South Mountains State Park to check out the fall foliage. I didn't write a trip report, but I did take a few Photos. In June, 2014 I hiked and creek walked up Jacob Fork to Nettle Branch. After another 1/2 mile of creek walking, I found a small but obscure and scenic waterfall.     Photos.
My November, 2015 solo exploratory dayhikes in the South Mountains. I visited the waterfall on Somey Creek and found some undocumented waterfalls on Roper Creek on the first hike. On the second hike I revisited Roper Creek and explored Negro Creek with Brenda, and visited the waterfall on Pot Branch. Photos.
My November, 2015 hike with Christy and the dogs to Buzzards Roost, the highest peak in the South Mountains. Photos.
Photos from my December, 2015 exploratory dayhike with Spencer, Stephanie, Dillon, Lauren, Trey, Mandi, and the dogs in the South Mountains of NC. We found two virtually unknown waterfalls on unnamed streams, along with an old cemetery and an abandoned school bus. Photos.
Our November, 2016 hikes in the Brushy Mountains, Crowders Mountain, and McDowell Park, including an obscure waterfall, lots of cliffs, the remains of an old mill, and the supermoon! Photos.
My December, 2016 hike with Jennifer in the South Mountains. Photos.
My January, 2017 hike with Thomas and Bob in the Brushy Mountains. Photos.
My February, 2017 Team Waterfall hike with Matt, Rick Morris, Bob Sedler, and Sean to two little-known waterfalls on Shoal Creek in South Mountains State Park.     Photos.
Our March, 2017 hike to the old mine shaft in Crowders Mountain. Photos.
My September, 2019 hike Christy to Beautimos Falls in the South Mountains.     (Photos)
My July, 2019 short hike with Christy to Pot Branch Falls in the South Mountains.     (Photos)
My April, 2019 solo hike to Pheasant Creek and tributaries in the South Mountains.     (Photos)
My April, 2019 solo hike to waterfalls on Devils Fork and a tributary in the South Mountains.     (Photos)
My April, 2019 hike with Christy to a waterfall on a tributary of the Henry Fork in the South Mountains.     (Photos)
My March, 2019 mountain bike ride with hikes in the South Mountains.     (Photos)
Photos from a November, 2020 hike with Jennifer to Pleasant Falls and Pheasant Creek Falls in the South Mountains Game Lands.    (Photos)
Photos from a June hike with Christy from George Poston Park to the summit of Spencer Mountain in Gaston County.    (Photos)
Photos from an April hike with Christy and the dogs to Jack in the Pulpit Falls and Sally Queen Falls in the South Mountains Game Lands.     (Photos)
Photos from two April hikes with Christy in the South Mountains Game Lands, to Roper Creek and the Henry Fork.    (Photos)
Photos from an April hike with Christy to Beautimos Falls and Black Mountain Falls in the South Mountains Game Lands.    (Photos)
Photos from an exploratory April hike with Christy in the South Mountains, including several waterfalls.     (Photos)

Raven on Crowder's Mountain

Stone Mountain

North of Wilkesboro and west of Elkin lie two nice parks that are easy to get to. Stone Mountain State Park offers granite domes, backcountry camping, trout fishing, and waterfalls. Christy and I did the traditional dayhike over Stone Mountain and Wolf Rock in November of 2000. We returned exactly seven years later and did the same hike. In September of 2003, we dayhiked up Garden Creek and descended the Mountains-To-Sea Trail along Widows Creek. In February of 2003, Joel and I bailed out on a Mount Rogers backpacking trip due to severe weather. We retreated to Stone Mountain State Park and camped on Widows Creek. In 2010, I hiked with Bob and Joel from the park up to Camp Cheerio.     Photos. In March, 2011, Bob and I combined Doughton Park and Stone Mountain in a single hike. We hiked from Basin Creek to Brinegar Cabin and on to Widows Creek.     Photos.
Our December, 2018 exploration of Little Bullhead Creek in Stone Mountain State Park.     (Photos)

Stone Mountain

Doughton Park

Just west of Stone Mountain lies Doughton Park. Doughton is part of the Blue Ridge Parkway and is administered by the National Park Service. It features rocky peaks, sunny meadows, mountain streams, and old homesteads. There is an extensive trail network, which can be accessed from the Parkway or from Longbottom Road, down in the valley. From Longbottom Road, trails extend up Basin Creek and 3 prominent ridges to join the Mountains-To-Sea Trail near the Parkway. These can be combined to create numerous loops. The biggest of them was the site of my longest dayhike, which covered over 17 miles and featured nearly 3000' of climbing. In March of 2002, we backpacked in the park for the first time. We started on the Parkway and descended to a wonderful campsite on Basin Creek. The next day we hiked up the valley to the recently restored Caudill Cabin. From there, we endured a wicked and occasionally frightening bushwhack up to Wildcat Rock and the grassy meadows that look out over the valley. In December of 2003, we endured subfreezing temperatures and considerable snow on a dayhike to Brinegar Cabin. In May I returned in more pleasant conditions for a dayhike to Caudill Cabin In January of 2006, Christy hiked in Doughton for the first time, hiking with me on the Flat Rock Ridge / Grassy Gap loop. The following winter, Bob and I hiked from the Parkway over Bluff Mountain to Brinegar Cabin and back. I returned to Doughton Park in May of 2010 for a dayhike from Longbottom Road to Bluff Mountain, returning on the Flat Rock Ridge Trail.     Photos. Christy and I visited Doughton Park again in June, 2013 for an exploration of Hanging Valley.     Photos.

Backpacking to Caudill Cabin

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