Segment 6: The Elkin Valley
Devils Garden Overlook to Pilot Mountain State Park
Distance: 69.4 miles (21.4 miles on trail, 5.5 miles on gravel road, 42.5 miles road walking)
Easy to moderate except on the western side of Stone Mountain State Park, which is very strenuous
Trail Communities: Elkin, Rockford
- Check Trail Updates before starting your hike.
By Bob Hillyer
This 69-mile segment marks the transition from mountains to Piedmont as the trail drops more than 2,000 feet in six miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) to a tranquil valley within Stone Mountain State Park. At the base of the massive granite monolith that gives the park its name, hikers enter a gentler landscape at the Hutchinson Historic Homestead.
From there, the journey continues a more gradual descent, over foothills and past farms and forests to the town of Elkin. The flora, fauna, and wildlife also make a noticeable transition. Yellow-pine forests begin to dominate the landscape along fields of corn and tobacco and trellised grapes at wineries. Once a textile powerhouse, Elkin welcomes visitors to explore its downtown as well as its proud history and beautiful setting on the Yadkin River.
From Elkin, the trail heads east, following the Yadkin River, past farms and forests to the historic village of Rockford, the county seat of Surry County from 1789 to 1850. Ahead looms the granite dome of Pilot Mountain, the westernmost peak in the Sauratown Mountain range. This MST segment ends at the start of the Corridor Trail in Pilot Mountain State Park, which in Segment 7 leads hikers toward that peak.
Two of the trail sections in this segment are also open to horses. You can learn about those trail sections by reading the hiking directions in this guide.
Eastbound travelers may choose to complete the eastern half of this segment by paddling the Yadkin from Elkin to Rockford or Pilot Mountain State Park. See the “Paddle Option” section later in this guide for more information.
This trail segment is “actively under development” by the Elkin Valley Trails Association (EVTA) and local governments that have made completion of the MST a priority. Please contact EVTA (see contact information in the “Additional Information” section for this segment) to learn how you can get involved.
- Stone Mountain State Park with its massive granite monolith, numerous waterfalls, designated trout streams, horse trails, and technical climbing on a 600-foot rock face
- Wells Knob, offering views of the mountains and the Piedmont from its 1,600-foot peak
- Easy hiking along the Elkin & Alleghany “rails-to-trails” as you enter Elkin
- A stroll down Main Street Elkin, where the sidewalks are marked to tell you that you’re on the MST
- A possible side trip to hike portions of the Revolutionary War–era Overmountain Victory Trail
- An alternate paddle to complete the eastern part of this segment from Elkin to Pilot Mountain State Park
- Historic Rockford, founded in 1790, which provides a pleasant stop halfway between Elkin and Pilot Mountain
- Pilot Mountain, which rises abruptly from the rolling hills, resembling the mesas out West
Segment 6 Eastbound Elevation Profile