You don't expect to see a mountain popping up from the gently rolling landscape of the North Carolina Triad (Greensboro, Winston-Salem... more », High Point). But Pilot Mountain is like that: full of surprises.
For hikers, the best surprise is that the trails, terrain and views from on high are good enough to make you forget you're a few hours east of the Appalachian Mountains.
The summit of Pilot Mountain (2,421 feet) is primarily a tourist attraction -- large parking lot, crowds of families wandering around soaking in the views (on clear days you can see Winston-Salem's skyline), easy walks to the overlooks. Invariably, though, you'll see a few veteran hiker-types lacing up their thick-lugged boots and hitting the trails.
Roughly 3.5 miles of trail track through Pilot Mountain's summit. Most of the trails are easy to moderate, but hiking all 3.5 feels more like six when you're done. It's an excellent workout.
Best time to go: Late October, when the leaves change. Next best: Early winter and early spring, when bare trees open even more vistas. Summer is the worst, though you can usually get a good like in during the morning hours before the heat gets blistering. less «