A Mountain Getaway in the Southern Piedmont
49104 Morrow Mountain Road
Albemarle, NC 28001
By Matthew H Irvin
Morrow Mountain State Park is one of two state parks where one can experience the mountains in the Piedmont. This trip will be to the southern Piedmont. Morrow Mountain is a place where you can see some of the plant life and similar terrain one would expect of the western North Carolina Mountains. Located in the eastern part of Stanly County by the side of Lake Tillery (the Pee Dee River), the park offers many amenities: horseback riding, hiking/backpacking, boating/fishing, swimming, camping, and more.
The park offers opportunities to drive up a mountaintop for vistas of the Uwharries to hikes in a beautiful forest to anything in between.
One of the early parks in the North Carolina parks system, development of the park began in the 1930s through the efforts of a local residents interested in establishing a state park. The original 3,000 acres of land were acquired in 1937, much of it donated by Stanly County residents. Many of the charming Bluestone buildings were built by crews of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Work Projects Administration (WPA) from 1937 to 1942. The park opened in 1937 and the park covers 4,742 acres presently. At 936 feet elevation Morrow Mountain is the fourth tallest peak of the Uwharrie Mountains. Modern man has not been the only visitor to this area; discoveries of artifacts in the area give witness to the presence of Paleo-Indians more than 10,000 years ago. When hiking the top of Morrow Mountain one can find the evidence of the intense mining of the Rhyolite for use as projectile points.
There is a lot of history in these hills and the mountain was not always called Morrow. Back before the turn of the prior century tornados changed the face of the mountain.
“On February 19th, 1884 the Great Southeastern Tornado Outbreak, also known as the Enigma Outbreak, swept across the Southeastern United States. This event resulted in the name Naked Mountain for what later became Morrow Mountain.”
The above quote is a story from the web page of the Friends of Morrow Mountain State Park. Wind has changed the park more than once. Recently on June 13, 2013 a derecho windstorm caused great damage at the park closing some sections for months. Just two weeks ago the winds associated from a strong cold front brought down more trees temporally closing the park, it has since reopened. Wind storms and damage are not uncommon to these areas with the exposed western slopes of the little mountains. Phil Lowder with Friends of Morrow Mountain State Park the wrote the above mentioned story about “Naked Mountain,” read more this link to their page: http://morrowmountain.org/posts/105-enigma.php .
Things you can do at Morrow Mountain State Park
The homestead of Dr. Francis Kron has been recreated on the original site in the park. Dr. Kron, a Prussian born emigrant, is thought to be the first medical doctor practice medicine in the southern piedmont. The home, doctor’s office/ infirmary, and greenhouse were reconstructed in the 1960s.
Morrow Mountain has three camping areas and six family cabins. The family campground allows tents, RVs, and trailers . The group campground has six sites where up to 35 campers are allowed on each. The remote primitive campsites are accessible through the one of the trails, the hike in is about two miles.
At the end of the parking lot at the park office sits a small museum. There is information about the Paleo-Indians and American Indians that inhabited the area. Also displays on native plant and animal communities, early explorers, and rocks and minerals.
There are three picnic areas ranging from the panoramic view from the top of Morrow Mountain, close to the swimming pool, and down by the shore of Lake Tillery
There is an Olympic size swimming pool, usually open between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
At the concession stand/boathouse on Lake Tillery rowboat/canoe rentals are available. The season runs from June through Labor Day. Rentals are also available on weekends in April, May, September and October.
There are 32 miles of hiking trails from easy to more strenuous and the park has 16 miles of horse trails. Morrow Mountain has plenty to do for everyone
This is just a brief outline of what you can do at the park. Why not go and see for yourself? Here are some resources for more information on the park:
Official Morrow Mountain State Park Website:
Friends of Morrow Mountain State Park website:
Friends of Morrow Mountain State Park Facebook page:
Friends of the Morrow Mountain State Park schedule many events over each year, including a traditional fall festival with storytelling and old ways. Called “Old Fashion Day”, the 2015 date has not been determined. However, you can keep up with all the planned activities at this link.
-Morrow Mountain official website
-Friends of Morrow Mountain State Park website
-My general knowledge from visiting the park for 40 years and interviewing the staff for newspaper articles.