Mayo River State Park (3-3-18)
Mayo River State Park is one of the newest properties in the North Carolina State Parks system. Located about a half-hour northwest of Winston Salem, the park was established in 2003 and didn’t officially open to the public until 2010. The State Park was created primarily to protect one of North Carolina’s more scenic river corridors, that of the Mayo River, which runs from the Virginia border in the north to its confluence with the Dan River 13-miles downstream. As of right now, the park boasts only basic amenities. The only portion open to the public is known as the Mayo Mountain Access area just outside the tiny town of Mayodan. This 2,700-acre piece of land contains the park visitor center, a small pond and picnic area, as well as a short two-mile trail system. Future plans for the park look promising, however. Public access to promote canoeing/kayaking on the Mayo River will one day be created and I’ve even read there’s another small parcel of land up by the Virginia line owned by the park which contains a scenic little waterfall. So the future looks bright for this little park, I’ll be interested to see what becomes of it in the coming years.
With only a single trail loop within its boundaries, making plans for visiting Mayo River State Park were pretty simple to say the least. The Mayo Mountain Loop Trail leaves from the main parking area near the picnic pavilions along the park lake. I’d be hiking the loop in a clockwise direction. Heading into the woods in a southwestern direction, I followed the trail as it gently ascended a low wooded ridge (which, I assume, is the ‘Mayo Mountain’ from which the area gets its name). Perhaps a quarter mile in I passed an old collapsed cabin just off the trail to the left. I haven’t been able to dig up any background info on the old homesite but it still was an interesting side stop. Just past the cabin the short inner loop trail breaks right, a convenient option for those looking for a much shorter hike. The path continued southwestward and continued its gentle ascent until, about a mile in, it curves back north and east as it drops off the ridge back into a broad river valley. The scenery is pretty non-descript. The forest is a mix of hardwoods and pine, typical of this part of the state. If I had shown up a month or so later I’m sure there would have been many wildflowers to see. Back within a quarter-mile of the parking area the path pulls briefly alongside a small unnamed stream before making a short, moderate ascent back to the ridge and the end of the loop.
There’s not much to say about this hike other than that. Mayo River State Park is still very much a work in progress and I hope the potential for it is realized someday. For now, however, this is a nice place for a quick walk in the woods or a picnic and not much more. Spring and summer most likely are prettier times to visit once life has returned to the forest but the crisp winter morning I stopped by still had a beauty of its own. Overall I enjoyed my stop at Mayo River and, with that, I invite you to come along with me as I explore this small but pretty park. As always…ENJOY!!!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 36.439391, -79.949303
Mileage Hiked: 2.0 miles Hike Duration: 0:45
Trailhead Temp: 35'F Trail Traffic: 1-5 people
Min. Elevation: 690' Max. Elevation: 900'
Total Vertical Gain: 210' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 105'