Yesterday was a rest day. Our weather radio went off a few times in the late afternoon warning about a severe thunderstorm that was headed to southwestern Virginia, which is just north of us. They warned of 60 mph winds, golf ball sized hail, torrential rains causing flooding and lots of lightning. This is the area we are heading to on Thursday. Thankfully we just caught the edge of it with some wind gusts and a lot of heavy rain.
Today we headed back south east of us to another state park on a “mountain’ that pops up in the middle of a vast plain. From the top we were close enough to see Hanging Mountain that we visited a few days ago.
Pilot Mountain is a metamorphic quartzite monadnock, and has a large granite pinnacle protruding from its top. It is somewhat reminiscent of a miniature Devil’s Tower. It is visible from a long way away.
When we got to the parking lot at the top there were 4 ranger trucks and 2 other cars. It got a bit busier later but 95% of the time there was no one else in sight.
The first viewpoint, just off the parking lot, was to the west. It was mostly sunny but very hazy so not great for distance views.
This guy kept a watchful eye on us as we moved to the next viewpoint. As we got close he leapt over a fence.
There was a very short trail out to the Little Pinnacle Overlook to see the Big Pinnacle.
You can see a bit of the steps of the next trail we did in the lower right corner, above.
This guys buzzed us.
Before heading off into the wild blue yonder.
The Jomeokee Trail, which is the Indian name for the pinnacle, goes out in a lollipop from the parking lot and around the base.
Down into the gap.
There were lots of overhangs, which you walked under, that looked like they were about to flake off.
Some spots were right on the edge.
This was the only splash of colour that we saw all day.
Hanging Rock State Park is the mountain in the background.
The trail was mostly flat with only a few stairs.
A lot of the time we were too close to the rock to get a good picture upwards.
We we arrived I wasn’t sure how much we would hike. The Ledge Springs Trail was really our only other option. All the rest of the trails went down to the bottom of the mountain. This one was 2.2 miles long, marked strenuous and the description said it was rocky but it was still early so we decided to give it a go.
It follows along the bottom of the cliffs on the south side of the main part of the mountain and then loops back to the parking lot.
The main thing that had us worried was that the bottom of the loop was an almost constant and steep downhill which we knew we would eventually have to climb.
Overhangs, ready to come crashing down on your head, everywhere.
Some trail art.
Climbing is allowed on some sections of the cliff.
Part way along there was a short cut to the top of the loop. We only hesitated a few seconds before ignoring it.
Onwards and downwards.
As the trail turned north it got wide and smooth and gently started going up hill.
And into some wide switchbacks. We were beginning to relax about the up hill climb.
We saw some more spider webs stretched on the ground.
Then, as it always must be, the steps started. They were not terribly steep but by now we were pretty hot and tired.
The top of the shortcut. It was really short. The other side of the loop was just over the hill. It would have cut about a mile off of the hike.
On arriving back at the car, we sat at the first viewpoint and had lunch.
And then home.
We decided to go into town for dinner. Initially we headed to downtown “Mayberry” but it looked like everything closed at 5. It was now about 5:45.
Also. the restaurant we had thought about going to was no longer in business. It had glowing reviews on Yelp though.
So we just wandered around.
This one was permanently closed.
We just settled for some fast food before heading home.