Pilot Mountain State Park will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Tuesday will a full day of activities for the entire family.
The festivities will begin at 10 a.m. with a Year of the Fish program for youngsters, to be held at Pilot Creek Access off Boyd Nelson Road.
At 11:30, a representative from Wildlife Rehab Inc. will join with a Park Ranger to host a live animal talk entitled Raptors – A Bird’s Eye View. Discussion will include local and migrant raptors and how they have adapted.
Mark Farnsworth of the Department of Cultural Resources will lead a 1 p.m. discussion at the Summit Picnic Shelter. The featured topic will be the natural and cultural history of Pilot Mountain State Park from the 1880s until today.
Live acoustic music featuring the talents of Randy Collins and Travis Frye will be featured on the Summit Sidewalk from 2-4 p.m.
A drone and infrared RADAR demonstration under the guidance of Max Messinger of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Laboratory at Wake Forest University will take place at 3 p.m. in the Summit Parking Area. Participants will learn how drones are used for scientific research in the park.
At 4 p.m., an assortment of children’s activities will take place in the field above the Summit Picnic Area.
Staff will host a meet and greet at 5 p.m., with discussion centering on plans for the next 50 years at Pilot Mountain State Park.
The band Sunrise Shadow will feature its own style of acoustic music from 5-7 p.m. at the Summit Picnic Shelter.
At 7 p.m., a reenactment of Pilot Mountain’s opening day as a state park, entitled “Smoke Signals,” will take place in the Summit Parking Area.
The day’s activities will begin to wind down to a close at 8 p.m. with a sunset hike around Big Pnnacle.
According to North Carolina State Parks, Pilot Mountain was mapped in 1751 by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, the father of President Thomas Jefferson. Pilot Mountain became North Carolina’s 14th state park in 1968, due in large part to the efforts of a group of local citizens. Prior to that time, the mountain was a commercial tourist attraction.
The Pilot Mountain Preservation and Park Committee proposed the establishment of Pilot Mountain as a state park in order to protect it and the surrounding area from further commercial development. Working with the conservation-minded owner of the property, Mrs. J.W. Beasley, the group secured options on the land and raised matching funds that made it possible to purchase the land with federal grants.
In further support of the park, the committee acquired more than 1,000 acres of land along the Yadkin River that was added to the park in 1970. Additional acreage was later acquired, bringing the park to its present size of 3,703 acres.
Pilot Mountain is capped by two prominent pinnacles. Big Pinnacle, with walls of bare rock and a rounded top covered by vegetation, rises 1,400 feet above the valley floor, with the knob jutting skyward more than 200 feet from its base. Big Pinnacle is connected to Little Pinnacle by a narrow saddle. Visitors have easy access to the top of Little Pinnacle where the view encompasses hundreds of square miles of the Piedmont and the nearby mountains of North Carolina and Virginia.
In recognition of the park’s 50th anniversary, the Pilot Mountain Post Office is offering a commemorative postmark.
“We look forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pilot Mountain State Park with staff, friends, volunteers, neighbors and everyone else who loves the outdoors,” State Park Director Dwayne Patterson said. “The events will offer enjoyment for everyone and will highlight the reasons Pilot Mountain is an important part of its community and the state park system.”
More information about the park and the 50th anniversary celebration can be found on the park’s website at ncparks.gov/pilot-mountain-state-park.