An easy hour drive east of Charlotte, Morrow Mountain offers something for everyone. While ambitious hikers can opt for a 5-mile (round trip) trek to the summit, you can also plan a trip around one or more other short (less than a mile each), compelling hikes. Breaking up the adventure into bite-sized pieces lets you do as much or as little as your energy, interest and enthusiasm allows. Here, you’ll find it’s worth the drive whether you take one hike or more.
Here are four good, short hiking options and what you can expect from each:
This is a great place to start. The trailhead is next to the living history museum at the opposite end of the main parking lot from the Visitor Center. The gently rolling natural surface Laurel Loop trail follows the Sugarloaf Creek and winds around the park’s vacation cabins. If you want to go farther, you can connect to the longer Morrow Mountain Trail. Otherwise, it’s a short, manageable hike back to the parking lot.
Three Rivers Nature Trail (0.8 mi.)
This trail is named for the intersection of the Uwharrie, Yadkin and Pee Dee Rivers. It meanders between floodplain and ridge top and offers plenty of opportunities to take in nature – from wildlife habitats to native plant life. This trail offers a relatively flat, peaceful stroll with plenty to explore.
This is our favorite trail at the park. Designated a Kids in Parks Track Trail, you have the option to pick up a brochure with a variety of activities for children at the trailhead. The trail is wide and mostly flat and traverses a the Civilian Conservation Corps’ (CCC) rock quarry that supplied many of the rocks used to construct the park’s buildings, curbs and walls during The Great Depression. There’s also a creek-crossing and lots of wildlife to take in.
Morrow Mountain is the highest point in Stanly County and the Mountain Loop Trail is an excellent way to enjoy the views it has to offer. The trail, which is rugged in some places, circles the top of Morrow Mountain, passing remnants of pre-historic quarrying. With restrooms and a picnic area next to the trailhead, this trail is a good one to end on for the day.
How to get there:
Morrow Mountain State Park is located at 49104 Morrow Mountain Rd., Albemarle, NC 28001. Start at the Visitor Center for a trail map. The Laurel Loop Trail starts in the Visitor Center parking lot. The Quarry Trail is in walking distance of this parking lot. Drive to the Three Rivers Nature Trail and Mountain Loop trail trailheads.
Don't forget to pack:
- Comfortable shoes: Hiking boots or sneakers.
- Water: You can refill at the Visitor Center or restrooms on top of the mountain.
- Snacks or a picnic lunch: There are plenty of picnic tables and natural spots to take a break.
- Hats, sunscreen and sunglasses: The trails are only partially shaded.
- Trail map: Print one or pick one up at the Visitor Center.