When I decided to go to Wake Forest, I was excited to explore the beauty and nature North Carolina had to offer. This past Saturday morning, my friend and I took a trip with Outdoor Pursuits to do a sunrise hike at Pilot Mountain. We left at 6 a.m., piled into the van and drove about 30 minutes to the mountain. The drive went by surprisingly fast, probably because we were all half-asleep. We unloaded the breakfast supplies and found a spot over a lookout that was sheltered by the trees, offering some protection from the wind.
The trip leaders made us pancakes and we drank coffee, tea and orange juice while we watched the sunrise. I had never experienced a true sunrise, but I would definitely recommend waking up early and finding an ideal vantage point to see it. Our lookout was the perfect spot to watch the sun rise over the horizon and it slowly warmed us up. Other hikers came to watch it as well, but it was by no means crowded and everyone we encountered was very friendly. The sunrise itself was breathtaking and it was totally worth the trip.
After the sun was up and we were finished eating, we dropped one car off at a lower parking lot so we could do a one-way hike. There are many different options of trails that are very accessible and doable for all experience levels. There are also options of doing a loop like the Ledge Spring Trail, which is 1.6 miles and strenuous if you are going up the mountain. Another option would be to take Grindstone, another strenuous three-mile hike both ways if you only had one vehicle. Since we weren’t going up the mountain, our hike was less strenuous and more relaxing. It allowed us to warm up and enjoy our surroundings more than if we were cold.
Not only does Pilot Mountain offer hiking trails, it also has camping and trails available to ride horses on. Grassy Ridge, a 1.7-mile moderate trail is open to horseback riders and at the head of the trail there is h,orse trailer parking. There is also a campground that offers 49 campsites for tents and RVs. There are two bathrooms located within the campground, which offer showers, and there is drinking water available throughout.
If you are looking for another type of outdoor adventure, Pilot Mountain offers rock climbing sites as well as options for canoeing or kayaking on the Yadkin River. The climbing routes range in difficulty, but you have to get a permit in order to climb there. This is to keep track of the people climbing for safety reasons. The Yadkin River section of Pilot Mountain offers Canoe-In Camping as well as hiking and horseback riding trails to reach the river.
Pilot Mountain has something for everyone, no matter what your experience level is. Even though it is about a 30-minute drive from Wake Forest, it is accessible if you have transportation and is a way to explore North Carolina while also getting off campus for a few hours. If you don’t have transportation, signing up for a trip through Outdoor Pursuits makes it very accessible and easy, and it’s an opportunity to meet new people. While I would definitely recommend a sunrise hike, not everyone wants to wake up early. Any time of the day you go, you will see beautiful views at Pilot Mountain and have a great time.