Pilot Mountain State Park (Hauser Road) to Hanging Rock State Park

Hike: Mountains to Sea Trail – Segment 7
Date: March 24-25, 2018
Notes: Arrived early on the morning of March 24th and dropped off car at Brim Grove Parking area east of Pilot Mountain.  We departed at or around 7:40am from Hauser Road and started hiking the Connector trail.

The trail was very nice and it was rather warm compared to what we believed it would be.  We stripped out of our layers and tried to get in some good miles.  It quickly became cloudy and a mixture of rain and sleet greeted us just as we entered the park.

We passed an exhuasted looking boy scout or church boys group.  They grunted some hellos as we passed.  Just ahead we came across a controlled burn with smoldering wood and ground cover.  It was smoking heavily in spots and in a few spots we noticed a bright and active flame.  We continued down the path and took a small break at the visitors center – it was raining and snowing off and on.

We continued outside the park and crossed under Hwy 52.  By then it was snowing pretty good, but not sticking to the ground.  We finished day 1 on the road and made it back to the car at Brim Grove around 4:30 p.m.

We spent the night in Pilot Mountain and had dinner at Tlaquepaque.  The wait staff was extremely helpful and we had a very delicious meal of fajitas.  The snow was falling, but not accumulating and we woke Sunday morning from our accommodations at Econolodge to tackle day 2.  But first breakfast at Cousin Gary’s.  We’ve had the breakfast buffet before, and it is everything and more with a typical southern breakfast fare.

We drove out to Hanging Rock State Park and had to make some several maneuvers to get past the blow down trees that crossed the road.  Another thing we noticed, the guys who work hard to clear the roads do a phenomenal job.  We made it to Hanging Rock and dropped off a vehicle to a crowd of about 20+ hiker/runners ready to get out on the snowy trails.

Making it back to Brims Grove we struck out on a day of slipping and sliding up and down the path.  We also got a late start, as we departed at 10 a.m. and looked to get in about 18 miles.  We pushed all day to keep our time reasonable and making sure we had the ability to get out of Hanging Rock State Park before 9 p.m.

I guess one of the biggest disappointments was the various closings of the Sauratown trails.  We had to take multiple road walks and detour around the established trails.  Very disappointing.  I am thankful that the detour was clearly marked, but the road walking was something that I didn’t count on.  Maybe it was a good reprieve from the snowy trails?

We did have one obstacle that is not noted in the trail guide.  A river crossing that we were not prepared for.  Hurting and knowing we had to continue to make time, we crossed the river slowly on a small log crossing.  The river was flowing and it was quite deep there, but we made it and bounded up the mountain, but it did take a lot out of us.  Probably more stress than anything knowing that if we slipped we would have gotten extremely wet with about 8 or so miles left.

In the end, we made it to Hanging Rock around 7:45 p.m. – it was a fun day and there will be many memories of years to come of our journey from Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock.

Lowlights: Snow hiking on day 2 was very difficult and used muscles that I typically do not use hiking, due to Sauratown Trail closures we had a lot of road hiking, was not quite as busy as we have hiked various road sections before

Highlights: Controlled Burn in Pilot Mountain State Park, snow falling as we neared the end of day 1, overcoming a difficult river crossing that was not documented in the trail guide
Total Miles: 36 miles