Conserving Wells Knob

A Landmark along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is now Forever Protected


At 1,865 feet, Wells Knob is one of the highest topographic features in Wilkes County, North Carolina before the rise of the Blue Ridge Mountains begins five miles to the west. As of December 21, 2022, the knob is forever protected by a conservation easement held by Piedmont Land Conservancy.

At the base of its northern slope, sweet smelling mountain laurel bloom in late spring and a small stream bubbles cheerily as it flows down to Elkin Creek. Thru-hikers and day hikers alike begin the climb to the summit of Wells Knob along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (see the section below for tips on how you can explore it too).

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail winds through a lush forest along cheery stream before it begins to climb to the summit of Wells Knob

Segment 6 of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail journeys right over the top on the knob on its way to Elkin going Southeast, and Stone Mountain State Park going Northwest. From the summit, the winter months allow views through the trees to the rolling hills of farmland and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trail was created and is maintained by the Elkin Valley Trails Association.

Not only will this conservation easement preserve a wider corridor for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, it will also protect the wooded slopes of this prominent landscape feature, scenic views for surrounding lands, and native plant and wildlife habitat.

“I grew up with woods on each side and a field behind me. I built secret underground forts, tree houses, and played in the creeks. Now all that has been chopped down, including a huge, beautiful tree that was unnecessarily cut down when the houses were built. I want my grandchildren and others to always be able to come to this special place and enjoy these trees and nature. I want people who use the Mountains-to-Sea Trail going through the property to enjoy the great views while surrounded by woods.”

Dr. Charles Classen

Dr. Charles and Marion Classen generously donated this easement on 158.74 acres of their land in Wilkes County because of their love of the natural world. A grant from the North Carolina Land and Water Fund helped to cover certain transactional costs.

Their easement donation will help ensure the permanent protection of the area surrounding and including Wells Knob. The easement prohibits any further buildings or structures on the property which is important to preserve the scenic value of this parcel and to protect a large area of plant and wildlife habitat.

Thanks to the Classens, the people and wildlife living near and visiting the area will always have this refuge. The land will function as nature intended, cleaning the air and water, allowing wildlife to flourish, and creating a sanctuary for our own health. The public trail that crosses the land will host thousands of visitors who can reconnect with themselves and the natural world, increase their heart rate, reduce their stress, and behold the wonders and beauties of our home.

We are grateful to all the partners and supporters who helped us protect this land for the future. Thank you!

A three dimensional view of the donated easement looking northwest along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Your Guide to

Hiking Wells Knob

Nearing the Summit of Wells Knob

Elkin, North Carolina

Wells Knob Trail is a lovely 3 mile hike through the woods that will get your heart pumping. This trail is also open for trail users on horseback! The entire trail is 3.2 miles over the knob and down to the other side. If you hike up to the summit and turn back the way you came, that will also get you approximately 3 miles. The climb is an elevation gain of 735 feet.

We suggest starting this hike from the north side of Wells Knob because of the availability of parking. Turn onto Wits End Road from Roaring Gap Road and park on the left, before crossing the bridge. You will see a sign that says “Wells Knob Parking” along with other information. Please do not block the road or the dumpster when parking. The exact coordinates of the parking lot are (36.33939, -80.94693). Google Maps lists the location as “Wells Knob Trailhead.”

After parking, cross the bridge over Elkin Creek on foot along the gravel road. Before long, you will see the trail begin off the road on your right. Look for an MST sign with the white circle trail marker. From this point the trail is a marked natural surface trail up to the summit. 

On the downslope of the southern side of the knob, the trail becomes a gravel road. Many people opt to turn around once reaching the summit and to head down the way they came back to their car.

Trail Signage near the summit of Wells Knob
The beginning of the Trail from Wits End Road

More Posts from Piedmont Land Conservancy

Leaves crunch underfoot and a thin winter chill moves over the forested land now, but these 93 acres that buffer the Mayo River will continue to burst with life year after year, undisturbed from now on. 

Guilford County Commissioners voted to allocate $2.3 million to make Bandera Farms Park a reality!

PLC staff and volunteers have been building hiking trails on a beautiful land near Asheboro in anticipation of opening PLC’s second nature preserve: Caraway Creek Nature Preserve. Well, that plan just got bigger and better!

Consider giving to

Piedmont Land Conservancy

to protect more special places like Wells Knob.