View of Pilot Mountain from US 52 North.

This website is composed on and for a desktop computer, not any smaller device. It results from hundreds of visits, hundreds of climbers, and thousands of photos. Climbing is made safe only by proper gear, training and experience, and constant attention to safety. This website presents information about what others do, not what you should do. Climb, if you decide on your own to do so, at your own risk and liability.

Pilot Mountain State Park is on US 52, a divided Interstate-style highway (scheduled as I-74), south of the town of Pilot Mtn., NC, and north of Pinnacle, NC, about twenty-five miles north of Winston-Salem, NC, at signed exits that would be about 131. The entry road leads up to the state park Visitor Center, and about two miles farther up a narrow winding road to a parking lot that can be filled on weekends with a wait to get a place. There are other toilets in a heated building, chemically treated water at fountains but also drink machines, a large shaded picnic area, and overlooks on a paved path. Make sure you find the one to Little Pinnacle for the classic view of and from Pilot Mtn. The cliff runs generally east-west, so it faces south, making it an increasingly popular destination as other areas become too cold. In summer, the forest provides shade on some walls. Somebody usually finds a way to rock climb here every month of the year.

Do note that climbing is NOT allowed on the Knob (explanation), with a $35 fine plus $180 court costs for a Class 3 Misdemeanor (12 citations in two months of 2011). Climbing is allowed only from along Ledge Springs Trail as detailed at this website and at the climber sign-in display. Climbing regulations include rappelling and bouldering. The park does not provide or maintain the climbing facilities (rules), and does not do rescue for injuries*. You should always check the Park webpage to note red text at the top and click "...details+" to read important notices. Closing time for the summit parking lot changes seasonally from 5:45 to 8:45 and is posted on the mountain road: being late is abusive of Park staff, and is held against climbing.

Permits are required per visit for all rock climbing, rappelling, and bouldering. The climber sign-in is to the right and downhill. Small forms are inside the brown metal box. The white copy, not folded, goes in the front slot, yellow copy stays with climber. Groups are allowed a single form by arrangement.

Grindstone Trail starts at the picnic area service road as Ledge Springs Loop Trail, and follows down the ridge past the anchor areas for all routes. It will reverse after a mile as Ledge Springs Trail, and follow uphill along the base of the cliffs for all routes. That lower Trail will connect below Little Pinnacle to Jomeokee Trail, which leads to the right around Pilot Knob (Big Pinnacle), and to the left returns to the parking lot area. Starting down to the cliff base using Jomeokee Trail is negelected. There is some uphill at the beginning, but is then all down to all routes. Most climbers continue from the sign-in down to the Three Bears Gully with steep stone steps that connnects to Ledge Springs Trail. Climbing routes linked below are listed as uphill or downhill from Three Bears Gully cut-off.

Thomas Kelley's guide to climbing had a chapter for Pilot Mtn. only in the third edition, long out of print and supply. A new guide for the Piedmont including Pilot Mtn. is scheduled for 2013. There is a pocket guide offered free inside the park office and as a download at the Carolina Climbers Coalition website. It offers number of bolts for the sport climbs and the anchors as natural or bolted (out of date), with spare advice to still allow "on sight" credit.

This alternative climbing guide includes many photos, and offers what some will consider too much information or "beta" about the climbs. For that reason, text is independent of photos, which are viewed individually by hypertext links, as on this page. The entirety is available only for personal printout and for download to a personal device for personal viewing. Any other copy or use without permission and credits is strictly forbidden as a violation of copyright laws.


Take Grindstone Trail to anchor areas. Walking the rim path hunting and hollering is stupid and wastes time.

Go to list of Climbing Areas along Lower Ledge Springs Trail, via Three Bears Gully.

Go to list of Bouldering locations.


*Emergency Procedures: dial 911 to dispatch the Park Rangers and EMS. State the route area name as in the pocket guide. If a person can be at the summit parking lot to guide efforts, that helps. Rangers will assist, and must fill out a form. EMS will direct rescue and do primary treatment and will transport, and will charge for it.

Driver's tips: do not speed on this portion of US 52: Highway Patrol often has radar on both sides. Do turn on headlights any time you are on the mountain road, which has many tight turns in shade. Expect bicylers, walkers, cars stopped for deer, and vehicles crossing the center line on tight turns and along the guardrails. Do not burn your brakes on the way down.

Behavior tip: DO NOT BLOCK THE TRAIL ever in any way. The park Superintendent has closed one route because of congestion, so please do not give him any excuse to close others.

Camper's tip: check the need for reservations before relying on a vacant site. Don't forget that the entire park is locked at the time posted at the entrance gate, and so is the road up to the summit. The camp area is not ever open for anyone other than registered campers. Practicing rigging on trees in the campground is forbidden. Outside the Park, consider Jomeokee Park at exit 129 just past the Marathon station. Two others are in the town of Pilot Mountain.

Traveler's tips: to eat south of Pilot Mtn., exit 123 at King offers all the usual starting with Pizz Hut and Waffle House, with Thai Cafe (behind Wachovia), Stratford Barbecue, Mi Pueblo, Italian Village, Chinese, Japanese, and cold and hot deli at Lowe's Foods. To the north in the town of Pilot Mountain exit 134, try Aunt Bea's for real ice cream, breakfast, and NC barbecue; for dinner, Soppers gets good reports; and Cousin Gary's has buffet all day.

Planning tips: weather forecast for the town of Pilot Mountain NC or for Pinnacle NC is a good hint about mountain conditions. From November through March, expect the parking lot to be windy and ten to fifteen degrees colder; but if there is sun, the climbing base and sunny walls will be ten degrees warmer. From May into September, the parking lot is hotter and many routes are in shade, though sunny walls may be too hot to climb except early and/or cloudy or later in the afternoon.

Beginner tip: see route suggestions.

Cell phone etc. tip: may not be available past the summit parking lot.

Hiking/approach tip: do not wear anything for shoes without sturdy toe cover. One mis-step will ruin your climbing day and maybe worse.

Rigging tips: If there are bolted anchors, do not use trees for primary anchors. Putting adhesive tape on the rock is illegal at Pilot. Please do not belay or lower through rings. Each top-rope webpage notes minimum runner length, with photos of the anchors and of rigging used; see collection of rigging galleries. To learn knots, try simple diagrams, or animatedknots.com and netknots.com.





Copyrights by and Comments to:
Lloyd Ramsey,  Climb Pilot NC USA


Note: This website is no longer being maintained or improved as of Lloyd's death July 30, 2012


Posted for first copyrights :  Oct. 17, 2010