Fortunately, we'd just done taken a hike that checked all the boxes. If you're looking for a trail along the same lines, here's what I would recommend.
a dozen trails and lots of other fun things to do at Morrow Mountain. Though the park is east of town, it encompasses four mountains, the tallest of which has some elevation (936 feet) and offers a pretty impressive 360-degree view of the surrounding area.
To take an invigorating 5-mile hike, beginning and ending with a view and traversing some gorgeous land in between, I recommend a combination of segments of the Morrow Mountain Trail and Bridle Trail. Here's a park map.
Take the Morrow Mountain Trail (blue triangle blazes; look for the trailhead just over the stone wall by the parking spaces at the front end of the parking lot) a little over half-mile downhill. (Note: This section is steep and strenuous.)
We loved this hike -- and so did my birthday-celebrating friend -- but if it's been a while since you've hit the trails, you might consider some other options at Morrow Mountain State Park first. Here are a few we've enjoyed:
How to get there:
Morrow Mountain State Park is located at 49104 Morrow Mountain Rd., Albemarle, NC, 28001. To do this hike, park in the Morrow Mountain picnic area parking lot (take a right at the intersection where the main entrance road splits). The Morrow Mountain Trail trailhead is just over the stone wall by the parking spaces at the front end of the parking lot.