Explore Trails

Connecting People to Nature

Get Outside on PLC Protected Land

It’s right there in our mission: “PLC connects people to nature.” We work hard to protect land for public access. Getting outside is good for our health, our communities, our environment, and our economies. We’re proud to continue expanding opportunities for trails across our region. Access to open space and natural areas is critical for our region’s future, and PLC plays an important role in making these places available.

Below you’ll find a list of hiking trails where you can get outside on land that has been forever protected by Piedmont Land Conservancy.

Get Outside on PLC Protected Land

1. Knight Brown Nature Preserve

221 Waterfield Lane, Stokesdale, NC 27357

Right next to Belews Lake there is a piece of quiet, undisturbed land that is PLC’s beloved first preserve. The trail is a series of 3 loops that descend into a valley and weave along with a stream that cuts through the forest floor. Find the remarkable views of the bending creek on the Red Trail. Walking all 3 trails gives you a 2.7 mile journey.

2. Stuart & Emma Thomas Memorial Trail

Reynolda Road Trailhead: 1234 Reynolda Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27104

Dr. CB Hauser Trailhead: 949 Gillete St, Winston-Salem, NC 27105

Downtown isn’t often where most of us think to find a nature trail, but the protected 92-acres of rolling pastures, forested groves, and beautiful views along the Stuart & Emma Thomas Memorial Trail in the heart of Winston-Salem means you don’t need to go far from the city for a peaceful, pastoral experience.

Visitors to the trail will be able to journey up to two and a half miles and take in views of rolling pastures, large oak trees, and views of the Winston-Salem skyline from the high points along the trail. The trail moves over hills and dips that will provide visitors with a few good climbs, but at a gradual pace. Keep your eyes open for the many varieties of birds flitting between the vegetation.

3. Caraway Creek Preserve

829 Jerico Rd, Asheboro, NC 27205

On the northern edge of the Uwharrie Mountain range, hike up to 3 miles at Caraway Creek Preserve, PLC’s second nature preserve, opened in May of 2023.

The natural surface, hand-built trails meander across beautiful, historic land primarily under tree cover. The hike will give you grand views of surrounding hills in the winter and early spring. 

A main feature of the preserve is a historic check dam, seen from the Caraway Forks Trail. This dam was likely built in the early 1900s as a method for silt-retention and flood prevention. It’s large size and considerable craftsmanship are best appreciated in person. Other features of the preserve are mature forests, hikes along ravine edges, and spectacular flora and fauna, as the preserve is located near lots of other PLC protected land.

Please note to check for ticks after a visit, especially in the summer months.

4. Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area

Pine Hill Trailhead: 5075 Bass Mountain Rd, Snow Camp, NC 27349
Oak Hill Trailhead: 5545 Bass Mountain Road, Snow Camp, NC 27349

The hiking is spectacular at Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area. This natural area is almost 1,000 acres of land protected by PLC.

The natural area has 4 hiking trails (all loops) to choose from, totaling to 9.5 miles of trail if you do them all! Both the Northern Approach Trail and the Lookout Trail journey up to the highest point east of Greensboro. From the top in the winter and early spring months, visitors can get views of the surrounding countryside when the trees have shed their leaves. 

Northern Approach Trail

The 2.5 mile trail is a gradual climb up 400 feet which loops back down again. It winds through a beautiful mature forest with unique boulder formations and plant life, as well as shows off a pristine bubbling creek. This trail begins from the Pine Hill Trailhead. 

Longleaf Loop

The Longleaf Loop begins from the Pine Hill Trailhead. The 1-mile loop trail is mostly flat and meanders through an area of new growth, planted with Longleaf Pine trees. Because the vegetation in this area is new growth, the trail has more clear views of the Cane Creek Mountain range.

Pioneer Camp Trail

This 3.4 mile loop begins at the Oak Hill Trailhead. The Pioneer Camp Trail showcases varied landscapes from rocky forested terrain to serene fern beds in the lush lowlands. The trail passes through the old Pioneer Camp, a youth summer camp operating between 1937 and 1956, offering glimpses of its history like the camp’s chimney and cabin remnants. The detailed work of volunteer trail builders is evident in the rock steps and creative use of the stones found during construction. It’s a beautiful walk in the woods.

Lookout Trail

The 2.5 mile Lookout Trail was designed with families and beginner hikers in mind. Starting at the Oak Hill Trailhead, it climbs to the top of the highest elevation in North Carolina east of Greensboro but at a leisurely pace, making it easier than the Northern Approach Trail also found here. The forest is beautiful. Towering oaks jut out of the rocky outcrops and boulders of the upland Piedmont Monadnock forest floor. We also enjoy spotting the huge leaves of the umbrella magnolia. From the top of the little mountain when the leaves are gone, you’ll enjoy views of the surrounding countryside.

5. Pilot Creek Trail | Pilot Mountain State Park

Get away from the noise and come to Pilot Creek Trail. The mountaintop sections of Pilot Mountain State Park are often stirring with crowds, but not down here. From the small gravel parking lot at the address above, the trail rolls up and down small hills and cuts across little creeks until it connects with the Grindstone Trail and Mountain Trail to add onto your trip.

Piedmont Land Conservancy was a major partner in acquiring this land, adding 70 acres to Pilot Mountain State Park. A huge thank you to the Friends of Sauratown Mountains for building the trail. It takes a community to make wonderful places like this a reality.

6. Faith Rock Trail | Deep River State Trail

Particularly lovely at sunrise and sunset, this 0.74 mile natural surface trail takes you to the top of a 50 foot blue stone outcrop as it juts into the Deep River. Thankfully its beauty will always be here as the preserve is protected in perpetuity by Piedmont Land Conservancy. From the trailhead at the address above, cross the historic bridge and follow the trail through woods with beautiful views of Deep River to the top of Faith Rock, a natural heritage site with rare plants. 

7. Yadkin Memorial Park Trails

Park Office: 1142 Crystal Lane, Yadkinville, NC 27055
Yadkin Memorial Park East: 2513 Ireland Rd, Yadkinville, NC 27055

Find multiple trail options at Yadkin Memorial Park! The longest, the Ashley Ladd Trail at Yadkin Memorial Park is 3 mile nature trail through the woods and along the lake shore, past the Hood-Chamberlain Dam, and into the newly developed section of the park. This wide trail weaves over streams, through laurels and holly bushes, and past carpets of ferns and eventually out into grassy fields. The trail has gentle ups and downs with places to rest at benches along the way. The park and trail continue to be expanded!

A PLC easement forever protects the 266-acre wooded buffer of land around Yadkin County’s future drinking water supply, Lake Hampton, ensuring clean water and recreation for generations to come.

8. Mayo River Trail and Fall Creek Falls | Mayo River State Park

113 Deshazo Road, Stoneville, NC 27048

At the top of the Triad right next to the State Line, you’ll find your next favorite hike. Passing by a gorgeous waterfall and snuggling into a bend of the Mayo River, this trail is all about the (surprisingly blue) water. It’s part of the Mayo River State Park and is located at the very top of the NC border. Though this hike has a bit of distance, it’s mostly flat. On a warm day you’ll be tempted to lie out on the sandy trail and stay a while.

To learn more about this trail see the guide on the Piedmont Legacy Trails Website.

9. Price Park | Greensboro

1420 Price Park Dr, Greensboro, NC 27410

The 92-acre Price Park is protected by a conservation easement held by PLC and provides a small sanctuary amidst a Greensboro suburb. The park features a hiking trail, paved greenway, and a bird and butterfly sanctuary. The 1-mile Evergreen Trail (pictured) winds through a lively forest while the 1-mile Price Park Greenway follows along the creek with more open views.

10. Black Walnut Bottoms Trail | Bethania

5393 Ham Horton Ln, Bethania, NC 27010

The Town of Bethania is a historic destination near Winston-Salem, with a wealth or trails to offer. PLC has worked closely with community to conserve the land around the town to create pockets of solace. The most easily accessible trail is Black Walnut Bottoms Trail, a 1.4 mile natural surface trail starting at the Bethania Visitor’s Center. The trail follows along Muddy Creek and cuts through forest and open fields.

11. Wells Knob Trail | Elkin

Elkin, NC

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.

Find more trails through Piedmont Legacy Trails

 Together with the Piedmont Triad Regional Council we created Piedmont Legacy Trails, the trails collective in the Piedmont Triad whose primary goal is to highlight our natural places, connect trail efforts, and give voice to regional trail interests for the the benefit of our communities. 

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