Compiled by Piedmont Legacy Trails
This hiking trails directory is sponsored by Piedmont Land Conservancy (PLC), a local non-profit organization whose purpose is to protect these special places to help ensure clean water for our communities, habitat for our wildlife, locally grown food, parks and trails, and other places for people to connect with nature. Since its founding in 1990, PLC has protected more than 200 of our region’s special places. Learn more on its website here.
Most people know the views from the peak of Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock, but we keep hearing, “Where else can I hike?” and we LOVE that question. There are a lot of things that make the Triad a wonderful place to live, but at the top of our list is exploring the natural beauty, diverse ecology, and history of our region – all done through some beautiful trails.
We’ve gotten to know the trails in the North Carolina Triad for some time now and below is our list of the underrated hiking trails that deserve a whole lot more credit, plus some of the more popular ones. Note that this list is hardly comprehensive. There are many more trails out there to enjoy, and the list continues to grow. Check out our Online Trail Map to find what’s near you, and stay tuned to trail updates and guides by following Piedmont Legacy Trails on Facebook and Instagram.
Great Bend Park on the Haw River Trail
Address: 350 Greenwood Drive, Burlington, NC 27217
Distance: 3.5 miles
Details: The sights on the trails at Great Bend Park are truly stunning, but it’s the relaxing acoustics of the river pouring over the system of historic dams that take it to the next level. Walking the island trail (pictured) is an astonishingly effective form of stress relief. We all could use some of that right now. This area also connects to both the Haw River Trail, a planned 70 mile trail along the Haw, and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, NC’s long-distance statewide trail. It’s a wonderful convergence of history and natural beauty- enjoy!
Company Mill Preserve
Address: Western Trailhead: Hagan-Stone Park on the cul-de-sac at the end of Cedar Rd; Eastern Trailhead: 6344 Company Mill Road, Climax, NC 27233
Distance: 3 miles
Details: Company Mill Preserve is growing in popularity, but since the newest portion of the trail just opened in October 2019, maybe you can get to this beautiful preserve before everyone else does. With both long boardwalks past beaver dams and higher land of mature forests and an old homestead, the 3 mile trail gives you remarkable variety. What not so long ago was a marshy area that collected a lot of trash has been transformed with tremendous clean-up and trail building efforts into a fun place to explore and a valuable habitat for wildlife. Situated next to Hagan-Stone Park (another wonderful place to hike), the trail has two entrances. The trailhead on the West comes out of Hagan-Stone Park and the one on the East side starts you off at the dam and boardwalks off Company Mill Road.
The Dam Trail at Yadkin Memorial Park
Address: 1142 Crystal Lane, Yadkinville, NC 27055
Distance: 2 miles
Details: We explored this glassy lake on a sunny morning and have been telling people about its beauty ever since. Yadkin Memorial Park burst onto the recreation scene with this beautiful land in 2014. The Dam trail, built within the last year, hugs the banks of the Lake Hampton Reservoir out to the Dam. The additions here are ever growing with more trails planned. If you’re in need of a peaceful lakeside stroll in solitude, then look no further. To learn more about this trail, see this blog.
Riverbluffs Trail at Hanging Rock State Park
Address: 1258 Flinchum Road, Danbury, NC 27016
Distance: 1.3 mile loop
Details: Did you know we had these gorgeous cliffs in the Piedmont? With all those mountain tops to explore in Hanging Rock State Park this trails seems to get left behind. It is criminally underrated. The trail explores the Dan River and the views might be enough to make you come back with a kayak. Another pro: With all the conserved land nearby this is a wonderful place to spot wildlife. The Riverbluffs Trail at Hanging Rock is an easy loop with a lot of reward. To learn more about this trail see this blog.
Faith Rock Trail and the Deep River State Trail Franklinville
Address: Western Trailhead: 1306 Andrew Hunter Dr, Franklinville, NC; Eastern Trailhead: 435 Rising Sun Way, Franklinville, NC 27248
Details/Map: piedmonttrails.org/maps-routes/faith-rock-trail and piedmonttrails.org/maps-routes/deep-river-state-trail-franklinville-section
Distance: 2.25 miles
Details: This wonderful combo of trails is a perfect day hike. Faith Rock Trail loops you through a preserve (thanks Piedmont Land Conservancy!) and up onto a 50 foot blue stone outcrop overlooking the river. Just across the historic bridge (pictured) the connecting trail, the Deep River State Trail, leads you down a repurposed rail line through a town park, past a old textile factory, and into a peaceful forest. See the map on to plan your trip. The Deep River State Trail is a developing land and water trail with 3 sections of multi-use trail on the ground: Franklinville, Ramseur, and Randleman. It was hard for me not to put the others on this list too! Check them out.
Guilford County Farm Trails
Address: 7315 Howerton Road, Elon, NC 27244
Distance: 2.8 miles
Details: The trails at Guilford County Farm are a unique and wonderful hiking experience. As someone who grew up around lots of farmland maybe I am biased by nostalgia. Both the trail along the open fields and the sections that meander through the forest are a reminder of our close connection to land. Not to mention, this trail is second to none for sunset viewing. To learn more about this trail see this blog.
Address: 5393 Ham Horton Ln, Bethania, NC 27010
Distance: 1 to 5 miles depending on trail
Details: The Town of Bethania is a historic destination near Winston-Salem, with a wealth or trails to offer. The community has worked hard to conserve their land (thanks again Piedmont Land Conservancy!) and turned them into pockets of solace. Right in the quaint downtown there are 4 loop trails totaling to almost 5 miles. Black Walnut Bottoms is the most popular trail but my other favorite is Reuter Trail.
Fall Creek Falls at Mayo River State Park
Address: 113 Deshazo Road, Stoneville, NC 27048
Distance: 1.9 miles
Details: Passing by a gorgeous waterfall and snuggling into a bend of the Mayo River, this trail is all about the (surprisingly blue) water. It’s part of the Mayo River State Park and is located at the very top of the NC border. Though this hike has a bit of distance, it’s mostly flat. On a warm day you’ll be tempted to lie out on the sandy trail and stay a while. To learn more about this trail see this blog.
Knight Brown Nature Preserve
Address: 221 Waterfield Lane, Stokesdale, NC 27357
Distance: 2.7 miles
Details: Right next to Belews Lake there is a piece of quiet, undisturbed land that not many people know about. The trail descends into a valley and weaves along with a stream that cuts through the forest floor. Through the 189 acres in Knight Brown Nature Preserve there are 3 trail loops with mild rises and falls. The red trail is my favorite for the remarkable views of the bending creek bed. Walking all 3 trails gives you a 2.7 mile journey, and sitting on this handmade bench for 10 minutes gives you peace of mind.
Boone’s Cave Park
Address: 3552 Boones Cave Road, Lexington, NC 27295
Distance: 0.5 to 7 miles depending on trail
Details: Rumored home of the famed Daniel Boone, the caves along the banks of the Yadkin River are a unique part of this park, but they’re not the only attraction. I’ve come to love this trail system for the 7 other miles of trail to explore too. A lot of the flora here resembles that of the Appalachian Mountains. The Cottonwood Trail and Red Oak Trail are two of my favorites as they visit enormous and gorgeous old trees, but any of the trails here are a winner (See the map). If you’re in need of a long walk in the woods, Boone’s Cave Park checks a lot of boxes, including less crowds.
Yadkin River Section of Pilot Mountain State Park
Address: 308 Hauser Road, Pinnacle, NC 27043
Distance: 1 to 5 miles depending on trail
Details: You’ve been to the top of Pilot Mountain too many times – come down to the river instead! Pilot Mountain State Park cares for many acres of land along the Yadkin and these trails don’t see nearly as many visitors. Plus it’s historic! Along with the gently sloping trails and sandy walk along the river, here you get to see the remains of the attempt to build a canal along the Yadkin in 1820 along Bean Shoals Trail. This trail system walks you through a lot of beauty in any season and it’s become one of my favorite spots in the Triad. I recommend the loop from Horne Creek to Bean Shoals to Yadkin Islands for a total of 5 miles (See the map). But if you’re looking for something a bit shorter take the gravel road all the way to the end which takes you right to Bean Shoals trail (0.5 miles), just make sure that your car can make it through 3 creek crossings! *Note that the road to Bean Shoals Trail has been closed recently due to damage. Be prepared to start your hike from the Corridor Trailhead at the address above.*
Chinqua-Penn Walking Trail
Uwharrie Trail- Joe Moffitt Trailhead to Jumping Off Rock Trailhead
Address: Thayer Rd, Troy, NC 27371
Distance: 3 miles
Details: This trail takes you both to valley creeks and peak overlooks along the historic Uwharrie Trail. Starting at the Joe Moffitt trailhead, a quick climb leads you to this colorful meadow on the top of Little Long Mountain. It’s the highlight of this stretch and one of the best views in the Uwharries. Descend down the mountain to a creek known as Poison Fork which will be your companion before another quick climb. Once again, this hike can serve as your introduction to the wonderful opportunities for hiking in this treasured section of the Piedmont Triad.
*Written and photographed by Brianna Haferman, the Piedmont Legacy Trails AmeriCorps Service Member for 2019-2020.
Other Favorite Trails & Hikes of the TMoM Team
DuPont State Recreational Forest
Address: Staton Rd, Cedar Mountain, NC 28718
Blue Ridge Parkway
Address: The Parkway runs from Virginia all the way to Cherokee, North Carolina with
beautiful scenery, overlooks, vistas and trailheads the whole way.
Mt Mitchell State Park
Address: 2388 N.C. 128, Burnsville, NC 28714
Stone Mountain State Park
Address: 3042 Frank Parkway, Roaring Gap, NC 28668
Recommended Trail: Widow Creek Falls
Click HERE for TMoM’s Daytrip Blog on Stone Mountain
Elk River Falls
Address: Elk River Rd, Elk Park, NC 28622
Laurel Creek Falls (aka Trash Can Falls)
Address: US-321, Boone, NC 28607
Hanging Rock State Park
Address: 1790 Hanging Rock Park Rd, Danbury, NC 27016
Visit these blogs featured on TMoM…
~ My View of Hanging Rock State Park
~ Day Trip Idea: Hanging Rock State Park
~ Getaway Idea: Cabin Camping at Hanging Rock State Park
~ Beachin’ It in the Triad
Pilot Mountain State Park
Address: 124 W Main St, Pilot Mountain, NC 27041
Hebron Rock Colony
Address: Get on the Blue Ridge Parkway at your favorite access point and head to MP 296.5 which is the large picnic area of the Julian Price Memorial Park near Price Lake. Drive into the picnic area and look for the first set of bathrooms on the left. The trail begins just beyond the bathrooms and is well marked.
Websites: ncwaterfalls.com/hebron1.htm and alltrails.com/trail/us/north-carolina/hebron-falls-via-boone-fork-trail
Click HERE for TMoM’s Daytrip Blog on Hebron Rock Colony
Address: 7359 Goodwill Church Rd, Kernersville, NC 27284
Address: 6101 Cole Mill Road, Durham, NC 27705
~ For even more trails that lead to waterfalls, visit our blog “Go Chasing Waterfalls” HERE!
~ For more tips on hiking, visit our blogs HERE.
~ More easy walking trails can be found in our “Playground and Walking Trails” directory HERE.
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