Following Pilot Mountain to small town heaven | Easy Escapes

JOLO Vineyards, Pilot Mountain, N.C.
JOLO Vineyards, Pilot Mountain, N.C.

For centuries, the huge, 2,421 feet tall monadnock known as Pilot Mountain was called “Jomeokee,” or “great guide.” The Saura Indians used this remnant of the ancient chain of the Sauratown Mountains to build and navigate their trails. Later it was used by early settlers and became part of the Great Wagon Road.

Today, it is one of North Carolina’s most remarkable landmarks, and guides travelers to a special small town, also called Pilot Mountain. The town is approximately thirty miles from Winston-Salem, perfect for a daytrip but appealing for a longer stay. Its Main Street is only about six blocks long but the town is surprisingly vibrant with restaurants, unique shops, vineyards, and parks.

Pilot Mountain State Park beckons with 3,073 acres of land to encourage recreation, exploration, and play. Hikers and cyclists can race or meander to the top for incredible views. Drivers can also reach the top by vehicle. The park connects with the Yadkin River by a 6.5-mile trail corridor.

Nearby at Horne Creek Farm, adults and children alike will enjoy learning about farm life, circa 1900, by touring the former Hauser house, the tobacco curing barn, corn crib, and cultivated fields. Taste and take home some old-fashioned apple varieties grown in Horne Creek’s heritage apple orchard.

On your way into town, stop in to Good Times Barbecue for an unexpected treat. Not your average barbecue place, you’ll find fresh salads topped with brisket, pimiento cheese burgers and excellent barbecue, all accompanied by a wide variety of NC craft beers. It’s always a good time of day or evening to come into The Living Room on Main Street – from early morning specialty brews, lunch, workshops, dinner, and night-time live music. It’s Pilot Mountain’s favorite gathering place. You’ll fit right in as you enjoy some of the freshest, most delicious organic soups, salads, and sandwiches around.

The Yadkin Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) of which Pilot Mountain is a part, enjoys the presence of over fifty vineyards and wineries. Be sure to visit Carolina Heritage Vineyard and Winery, the only USDA-Certified Organic vineyard and winery in North Carolina. Its tasting room is often the stage for local musicians and artisans. Perched 900 feet above sea level on an eighty-acre estate, JOLO Vineyards offers stunning views of Pilot Mountain. For an elegant but casual Saturday or Sunday lunch, stop in at JOLO’s End Posts Restaurant, now serving a tapas menu.

Be refreshed and entertained at Mayberry Spirits as owner Vann McCoy, a former Monk, dons a variety of costumes to demonstrate the distilling process on his personalized tours. The distillery is currently making moonshine and three different whiskeys.

Find your way to the Art of Massage for a world-class massage and a perfectly still time of relaxation and rejuvenation. It’s one of the special surprises Main Street has to offer.

At day’s end, tuck yourself into luxury at The Vintage Rose Inn, also known as The Vintage Rose Wedding Estate with its own wedding chapel. This is the perfect location for a wedding party, anniversary celebration, or other special occasion. The elegant décor whisks you away to another time. The aroma of morning breakfast brings you happily back to the day at hand.