MST Section Hike/Ride (Elkin to Pilot Mountain SP) Route Map

MST - Elkin to Pilot Mountain State Park

Besides a short, half-mile stretch of dirt this section ride/hike along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail takes place entirely on asphalt. As I’ve mentioned in previous albums, these incomplete sections of the MST which are located on roadways become fairly commonplace as the trail route moves farther east and private property becomes more ubiquitous. It’s not really my cup of tea to spend long days hiking on roads so, to save time and increase mileage, I decided that in my pursuit of section hiking the MST I’d complete these sections by bicycle. Thus it is that this stretch is one of the longest, at over 30-miles, thus-far of my quest. Starting in the pretty little downtown of Elkin, North Carolina this segment heads east along winding rural roads through farmland and across numerous rivers to arrive at the southern trail entrance of Pilot Mountain State Park. As far as road segments go it’s fairly pretty, which helps with the challenging distance you need to cover. Seasoned bikers may find it less difficult and more enjoyable, I’m sure, but this novice is rather happy to have this stretch behind him.

Starting at the corner of Main & Bridge Streets in downtown Elkin the route heads due east to exit town within a mile. Make sure to make a stop at the huge, eclectic, directional pole near the east end of Main Street which provides distances to numerous spots (both real and imaginary) across the globe…Tokyo being marked 6,881-miles in one direction and Hogwarts being 3,940-miles in the other. At the two mile mark the route passes under Interstate 77, winding along Highway NC-268 for an additional four miles before crossing Mitchell Creek and, just beyond, the tiny Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church. Directly across from the church is the east end of the short half-mile section of actual trail (mentioned previously) found along this segment of the MST. A marker post points you down the bank and across a tiny stream, which might be tricky to cross at times as it flows through a five foot deep, unbridged ravine. Beyond this the trail, which is marked and surprisingly clear, continues to follow alongside the little stream on a generally easy incline. Before you know it you’ll pop out onto a grassy lawn bordering the property of Carolina Heritage Vineyards before meeting the road once again. Turn left (north) to continue on NC-268.

***As with other road-intensive segments of the MST, I’m not going to provide turn-by-turn directions here in the intro. If you scroll through the album, however, I’ve pictured and captioned all critical intersections (as well as numerous landmarks) along the length of the route.***

On the road again and heading eastbound the route continues its meandering journey across southern Surry County. There’s numerous roads the route utilizes along this stretch so a good map and an MST Guidebook are a must to keep you on track. Just past the halfway mark you’ll reach the historic community of Rockford, which served as the seat of government for Surry County from the late-1700’s until the turn of the 20th Century. Numerous historic structures dating back to the town’s heyday can still be seen thanks to ongoing efforts by local preservationists. The remaining 15-miles of the route continue on in much the same manner as the portion preceding it. Utilizing numerous local roads the MST passes through a landscape of rolling farmland and pockets of mixed hardwood forest. The unmistakable profile of Pilot Mountain is also visible at times through the trees to the northeast. The route finishes off along Hauser Road, which provides access to the Yadkin River Unit of Pilot Mountain State Park. A large trailhead parking area sits across from the unimaginatively-named Connector Trail, which the MST now turns onto. With that, the Elkin to Pilot Mountain State Park section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is complete.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  36.244900, -80.850915  (Elkin Police Dept/Farmers Market Parking)

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  36.267918, -80.496360  (Corridor Trail Access/Pilot Mountain SP)

Section Length:  32.1 miles  (Petzoldt Rating:  34.80 )                

Difficulty:  EXTREME

Min. Elevation:  800'  (Hogan Creek)                

Max. Elevation:  1,140'  (West Mount Herman Church Road)

Total Vertical Gain:  1,350'  (Eastbound)          

Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  42'  (Eastbound)


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