Thursday, November 9, 2017

Morrow Mountain State Park: Fall Mountain Trail

Lingering warmer temperatures mean the leaves have been slower to change colors this year, but it's happening now and you don't have to drive to western North Carolina to enjoy autumn at its finest. Here's one good leaf-gazing option just over an hour east of Charlotte.

The Fall Mountain Trail is a beautiful, moderate 4.1 mile loop through Morrow Mountain State Park. The natural-surface, rolling trail is easy to get to, quiet and rewarding.

It starts at the Morrow Mountain State Park parking lot next to Lake Tillery and winds its way to the top of Fall Mountain, where you'll find nice views of the lake and fall foliage. You'll follow the orange triangle blazes.The biggest obstacles are a handful of fallen trees blocking the path. Though you're climbing a mountain, the going is never very steep.
Following the trail clockwise saves the more scenic parts of the hike for last. After the summit, you'll enjoy some fun overlook panoramas on the way back down, finishing on the banks of the lake, where the fall colors are resplendent reflecting in the water.

Some points of interest along the trail are old grave markers -- some from the 1700s -- of folks who inhabited the land long ago. But you'll have to keep your eyes peeled to spot them; the tombstones lie off the beaten path.

It's a beautiful hike, perfect for getting a taste of fall close to home. Plan to spend a couple hours exploring and strolling. There are bathrooms and water at the parking lot.

Pack a picnic lunch and then reward yourself with a milkshake from The Sundae Shop in Midland on the drive back to town.
How to get there:
Morrow Mountain State Park is located at 49104 Morrow Mountain Rd, Albemarle, NC 28001. Park in the parking lot next to Lake Tillery. The trail begins and ends at the parking lot (consider taking the trail clockwise!).  
Don’t forget to pack:

  • Water: You can refill at the bathroom facilities in the parking lot.
  • Snacks: Throw in a granola bar, trail mix or crackers. It buys you time on the trail when your tank starts running on empty.
  • Backpack or satchel: Something lightweight and comfortable to carry your essentials.
  • Trail map: This is a well-marked trail, but it's always good to have one to reference when you get there. Here's one you can print.
  • Shoes: Comfy walking shoes or hiking boots. 
  • Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses: The trail is shady, but there are bright, open spots.

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