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FSP 2008 Sponsored Project

North Carolina State Parks Tours

The Triad Park Loop – Mountains, History, and Rivers

View NC Park Tour TR in a larger map
Pilot Mountain State Park - Hanging Rock State Park – Mayo River State Park – Haw River State Park –  – Triad
This tour will take us through the Triad portion of the state on a path of history, natural beauty and enjoyment, leading us to unique mountain tops, historic sites, rivers, rocky cliffs, and the renowned cultural attractions of the Triad communities.
Pilot Mountain State Park

The tour can be started at any point, but we'll begin with one of North Carolina's iconic views – Pilot Mountain. This solitary peak is a National Natural Landmark, rising above NC 52 roughly two-thirds of the way from Winston-Salem to Mayberry – I mean, Mount Airy. Pilot Mountain State Park is comprised of two sections connected by a 7-mile hiking trail. The main section features the famous peak with opportunities for fantastic views, hiking, horseback trails, and rock climbing while enjoying the rhododendrons and ravens. The other end of the park is on the Yadkin River where you can launch your canoe or kayak on the gentle portion of the river. You can also learn about the history of the area by visiting the adjacent state historic site – Home Creek Farm.

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Pilot Mt
Hanging Rock
Hanging Rock State Park

Pilot Mountain is one of two state parks in the ancient Sauratown Mountains which lie east of the Blue Ridge. Next up is a 40-minute drive to the other park – Hanging Rock State Park. Or you can walk or horseback ride the 20-plus scenic miles of the Sauratown  Trail (part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail) between the parks. Hanging Rock is known for its steep cliffs, waterfalls, and great views. Go fishing, rent a canoe, climb the rock face, camp, tour the exhibit hall, hike the many trails, and swim in the lake. Wade in the pool under the Lower Cascades Falls and check out Window Falls.

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Mayo River State Park

Next, take NC 89 S, turn right on Shepherd Mill Rd, right again on Phillips Rd, then continue on State Rd 772 and follow it until you reach NC 704. Head east on NC 704 for 10 miles to Madison. Turn left on US 220 Bus N (2nd Ave).    The entrance to the Mayo Mountain Access area of Mayo River State Park is less than 3 miles away on the left. This park area was part of an old mill community and company park. Several historic buildings built by an architect who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright have been restored or re-created. There are trails to hike and a pond for fishing. And it's a great spot for a picnic. The Mayo River flows south from Virginia into a undeveloped park area on the state border, giving the paddler a great stretch of river to run before the dam near Mayo Mountain.

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Mayo River
Haw River
Haw River State Park

To reach Haw River State Park take US 220 Bus N until it merges with US 220, then follow it south for 14 miles towards Greensboro. Exit onto US 158 E, and after 11 miles turn right at Cunningham Rd. Make another right onto Spearman Rd and follow it to the park entrance. This is the site of the Summit Center, an environmental education and conference center that offers summer camps, including one for junior rangers. It may also be rented by other groups for meetings or conferences. Contact the park for information. Several types of lodges, cabins, and hotel-style facilities are available. The grounds include a wetland trail, forest, meadows, tennis courts, and a lake for fishing and canoe training. The Summit is for event attendees only. Other sections of the park are being developed with additional park facilities as defined in a 2010 master plan.

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To return to Pilot Mountain State Park or the Triad cities, drive south on Spearman Rd. When you reach NC 150, you can either head east and take US 29 S to Greensboro or High Point and enjoy their museums, restaurants and shopping, or head west on NC 150 towards Winston-Salem to sample its arts and culinary palate. To reach Pilot Mountain, follow NC 150 west for 21 miles until it merges with I-40 Bus W / US 421 N in Kernersville. After 10 miles drive north on US 52 toward Mount Airy. It's 22 miles to the Pilot Mountain exit, but you'll see it long before that. There's a scenic overlook on NC 52 where you can pull off and photograph one of the most popular images of North Carolina.

Major towns near the tour offering food and lodging include: Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Mount  Airy. You can use one of these as your home base and enjoy each of the parks during your stay. Be sure to also check out the area for historic sites, museums, golf courses, craft shops, and outdoor recreation.

Detailed text Directions

Park Links
Pilot Mountain

Hanging Rock

Mayo River

Haw River

Want to Camp!

Camp at a State Park –  call 1-877-7-CAMP-NC or

Other Places of Interest
Mount Airy (Mayberry)

Fiddlers Convention

Yadkin River

Sauratown Mountains

Sauratown Trail

Avalon, the forgotten town

River Country, Rockingham County

International Civil Rights Museum

Old Salem

UNC School of the Arts

goTriad events

Commercial Sites for Lodging, Dining, Supplies, and Recreation

Mount Airy 


Winston Salem

Homeland Creamery

For more information on North Carolina State Parks we recommend our North Carolina State Parks Map Guide

North Carolina State Parks Map Guide
A planning and traveling companion with detailed maps and information on each park

Copyright © 2010 by Friends of State Parks

Pilot Mountain photo NC Division of Parks and Recreation photo by: Betty Anderson, Hanging Rock photo NC Division of Parks and Recreation photo by: Robert Curtis, Mayo River photo NC Division of Parks and Recreation photo by: E. Corey, others by Bob Sowa © 2010

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