When you are considering a weekend daytrip within reasonable driving distance from Charlotte there is a relatively short list of destinations that might initially come to mind. You’ve got the beach – Ocean Isle, Carolina Beach, Myrtle Beach, The Outer Banks.
But those are all somewhat long drives and inevitably you will find yourself dissatisfied with the relatively little you were able to accomplish in you 8-12 hour coastal excursion.
There are the Appalachians – Boone, Blowing Rock, and Asheville. All solid choices, plenty to do but not so much that you might feel regret for skipping something between hitting the trails or taking in downtown Asheville.
But if hiking is what you want, there are even closer hills to climb between Crowder’s Mountain and King’s Mountain.
Let me backtrack a little and explain something.
Hiking IS what you want to do for your day trip.
It’s the perfect daylong experience, when you reach the end of a trail you’ve accomplished something – and you are usually rewarded with a waterfall, a particularly excellent view, a place to rest, or a picnic lunch if you’re one of those people who plans ahead. Then, at the end of the day, you can leave feeling like you’ve conquered something, you’ve improved; it’s perfect.
So next time you and your friends are considering leaving town for a day maybe err on the side of exercise and mention hiking and while your at it check out one particular location that gets left out of the Piedmont area hiking discussion more often than not – Morrow Mountain State Park.
Why Morrow Mountain State Park you ask?
The trip is fun before you even reach your destination and you have so many options once you get there.
For all you jalopniks out there – for our readers who like to propel themselves across concrete and asphalt surfaces at high speed using some configuration of between two and four wheels and a combustion engine – this is the hiking trip for you.
If you take NC-49 all the way through Mt. Pleasant and then US-52 Southbound to Badin, North Carolina, you will encounter some of the best driving roads North Carolina has to offer outside the Blue Ridge Parkway on your way up through the state park.
Not only that, but historic downtown Badin is an awesome place to pit stop for obligatory ice cream or to cap your day trip off with a classic drive in movie at the Badin Road Drive-In Theater.
When you finally reach the park grounds you are going to find yourself at a fork in the road with a few signs pointing out the park’s attractions. You’ll have some decisions to make.
There is a swimming pool and sheltered area if that’s what you are into or you can park and pick a trail.
The aptly named Morrow Mountain Trail takes you up to the top, the Rocks Trail leads you out to some rock formations on banks of the Pee Dee River. There is also the “Long Loop” which is exactly what it sounds like, a loop around the park – this trail is more suited to our four-legged, hooved friends. You can check out the park map here.
There is even a Morrow Mountain Natural History Museum. This is honestly a must do during your day at Morrow Mountain – start here and then hit the trails.
This brand new, one room museum, is a great place to learn about the history of the Pee Dee, Uwharrie and Yadkin Rivers, the types of wildlife that call Morrow Mountain home – and it asks the tough questions like “Why does it have to be snakes?”
If you have small children, or for whatever reason don’t feel like hiking the trail, you can drive to the top of Morrow Mountain and enjoy the fruits of everyone else’s labor at no cost to you. The summit features, incredible views from many angles, ample seating areas, shelters and grills and picnic tables.
You know, if you want, set out a tablecloth and start on the burgers and dogs so that your friends who are working for that excellent view have delicious food waiting for them when they reach the top.