Go Explore: Pilot Mountain, N.C.

By Kristy Tolley

If you’re familiar with The Andy Griffith Show, you’ll likely recall the mention of nearby city, Mount Pilot. Many speculate that the name was inspired by Pilot Mountain, which is located near Andy Griffith’s real-life hometown of Mount Airy. A visit to Pilot Mountain will reveal a charming blend of outdoor adventure, unique spots and tasty diversions.


Situated 2,400 feet above North Carolina’s gentle hills, Pilot Mountain, with its distinctive rocky knob rising above a forested base, has been a navigational landmark for centuries. It’s part of the Sauratown Mountains, named for the area’s earliest known settlers, the Saura tribe. The Saura called the mountain “Jomeokee,” meaning “pilot” or “great guide.” It was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1976.

Spanning 3,703 acres, Pilot Mountain State Park provides endless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. You’ll discover extensive trails for hiking, running or horseback riding; a canoe trail for river exploration; rock climbing on sections of the park’s cliffs; and camping areas. Bordering the park, the 113-acre Horne Creek Living Historical Farm is worth a visit. Once the Hauser family farm, it dates back to the 19th century and offers a glimpse of our rural past.



Sip a glass and savor Instagram-worthy views of Pilot Mountain at JOLO Winery & Vineyards. You can sample red or white varietal wines from the estate. Stay a little longer with lunch and small plate tapas selections at End Posts, their onsite restaurant.

Located on South Key Street, Aunt Bea’s Barbecue serves up all-day breakfast plates, hickory smoked barbecue, sandwiches and delicious Southern favorites like banana pudding and peach cobbler.


JOLO Winery & Vineyards



Step back in time along Main Street. From retro collectibles like an Esso grease can or a Brownie camera to vintage-style fabrics and hand-made pottery, Mount Pilot Antiques has something for everyone.


Downtown shopping



Every Mother’s Day weekend, the town of Pilot Mountain hosts Mayfest. This three-day event includes games, activities, live music, food and arts and crafts. This year’s Mayfest is May 10-12, 2019.

Visit to plan your trip to Pilot Mountain! Confirm event before your visit, and designate a driver if you plan to drink alcohol.

(Go Magazine May/June 2019)

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