Mountains-to-Sea Trail: Segment 7
ElevationAscent: 4,571' 1,393 m
Descent: -3,728' -1,136 m
High: 2,525' 770 m
Low: 862' 263 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 29% (16°)
Popular runs nearby
Pilot Mountain Loop
10.8 mi 17.4 km • Loop • 1,938 ft Ascent 590.84 m Ascent
Pilot Mountain Loop
5.7 mi 9.1 km • Loop • 643 ft Ascent 195.98 m Ascent
Hanging Rock Trail
2.7 mi 4.3 km • Loop • 443 ft Ascent 135.15 m Ascent
Isaacs Trailhead to Grassy Creek/Carter Falls
6.8 mi 10.9 km • Loop • 538 ft Ascent 164.04 m Ascent
Lake Brandt Loop
6.8 mi 11.0 km • Loop • 96 ft Ascent 29.35 m Ascent
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“The Sauratown Mountains: Pilot Mountain State Park to Hanging Rock State Park”— Jim Grode
Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Camping is prohibited throughout Segment 7 except where designated.
If you plan to leave your car overnight or longer at any of the state park parking areas, you must notify a park ranger. Otherwise they will assume you are lost and start a search for you.
Although the trail is closed during the gun and black-powder deer hunting season from November to early January, it remains open during bow hunting and turkey seasons. Always wear blaze orange when traveling on private property in this segment, and learn more about hunting seasons and regulations before your trip at ncwildlife.org/Hunting.aspx. Hunting is prohibited in Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock State Parks.
At its eastern end, Segment 7 enters Hanging Rock State Park, the third-oldest state park in North Carolina. In the park, the MST passes within a few feet of the summit of Moore's Knob, the highest point in the Sauratown Mountains. The views from the summit fire tower are spectacular! From the rocky slopes of Moore's Knob, the trail descends through oak-hickory forest to Hanging Rock Lake, popular for swimming and boating in the summer and home to a CCC-built pavilion and bathhouse, and on to its eastern end at the Hanging Rock State Park Visitor Center.
This segment provides a sense of isolation that is rare in the Piedmont. There are no towns or stores on the segment, and only a few businesses of any sort. At the same time, much of the trail passes through working farmland, even within a few feet of active farm buildings. The nearest towns for resupply or lodging are Pilot Mountain, about 3 miles north of Pilot Mountain State Park; King, about 8 miles south on US 52; and Danbury, which MST Segment 8 passes through about 4 miles east of the eastern end of Segment 7.
In contrast to the majority of the MST, most of Segment 7 is open to horseback riders, and equestrians make up a large portion of the trail's users and advocates. All of the Sauratown Trail is equestrian trail, and the Corridor Section of Pilot Mountain State Park and the Ruben Mountain Trail (also marked as Tory's Den Trail) in the western part of Hanging Rock State Park are both open to horses. Visitors should be aware of the potential of encountering equestrians and that horses always have the right-of-way. When encountering equestrians, those on foot should calmly greet the rider and avoid quick movements to keep from frightening the horse.
The MST and Sauratown Trail in Segment 7 is generally very well marked with the MST blaze—a 3" white circle—and Sauratown Trail signs. In a few locations, where trail is newly designated or trees have fallen, there may be gaps in the blazing, but these are rare, and the Sauratown Trails Association regularly replaces them. Because the trail is designed for equestrian use, the blazes are often higher than expected on a pedestrian-only trail. The sections of trail within Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock State Parks, in addition to the white MST blazes, also have a second set of colored blazes corresponding to the state park trail systems.
For more information, including camping, lodging, parking, shuttles, and resupply information, as well as detailed, turn-by-turn directions, download a trail guide from the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
The Sauratown Trail is maintained by the Sauratown Trails Association, and the portion of Segment 7 within the state parks is maintained by Friends of the Sauratown Mountains. Both organizations hold regular trail workdays. As a result, this segment is built to very high standards, and it is a joy to explore.
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Land Manager: North Carolina State Parks - Pilot Mountain State Park