Ascent of Morrow Mountain on 2019-05-09

Climber: Henry Pharr

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, May 9, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Morrow Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:900 ft / 274 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is the third of many ascents to this peak which is the high point of Stanly County. It lies hands above (down) every other peak in the MM State Park, only about an hour's drive from where I live.

The Morrow Mountain peaks (Sugarloaf, Falls Mountain, Mill Mountain, Hattaway Mountain and Tater Tot Mountain to the south) comprise the eastern edge of the greater Uwharrie Mountain range; an ancient series of mountains spanning the counties of Randolph, Montgomery, Stanly, and Davidson. The range's foothills stretch into Cabarrus, Anson and Union counties, and terminate in the hills of Person County.

The Uwharries were once a coastal mountain range. Due to the raising of the eastern seabed from millennia ago until today, they lie in the Piedmont of North Carolina over 150 - 200 miles from the coast. Formed approximately 500 million years ago by accretion along the Gondwanan tectonic plate, they are thought to have once peaked at some 20,000 feet,<2> before eroding to a maximum of just over 1,100 ft.

I have hiked Morrow Mountain at least once in each decade from the 1970's to the 2010's. First time was with the Boy Scouts where we camped on Hattaway Mountain and wandered down by Lake Tillery late at night. In 2017 I took the tourist route and drove to the top for a short summit before attempting some other local peaks.

The most arduous climb was a lowest to highest point hike in May, 2019. I started at the river and hiked to the summit of Morrow Mountain through various bridle and hiking trails for a 10 mile round trip with 1347 feet of elevation gain and a lot of sweat poured out in the red clay. It took everything out of me and I was glad to splash down in the waters of the Pee Dee River near my car.

The most recent hike was with my hiking group in February 2020, where we took the direct route from the Visitor's Center to the HP. Not the hardest route, but likely my favorite as I got to share the climb with some good friends and really enjoy the route not with my lone arduous breathing, but with interesting and caring folk.

Overall, I would rate this peak as one of my favorites to hike in NC. Perhaps not because of the route, but more because of the routes and people I met or hiked with in the process. Rising so high and steep above the surrounding landscape, Morrow Mountain is a task, but also a great reward. There is benchmark at the summit and also amenities if you so choose. Generally just a good place to wander. And so near to the rolling hills of the Piedmont.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1347 ft / 410 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1347 ft / 410 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10.7 mi / 17.2 km
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1347 ft / 410 m
    Distance:5.2 mi / 8.4 km
    Route:Bushwhack, maintained and unmaintained trails
    Start Trailhead:Parking Lot at River  -447 ft / -136 m
    Time:1 Hours 55 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1347 ft / 410 m
    Distance:5.5 mi / 8.9 km
    Route:Maintained and unmaintained trails + road walk
    End Trailhead:Parking Lot at River  -447 ft / -136 m
    Time:1 Hours 45 Minutes

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