About Wilkes County, NC

Wilkes Co man standing next to a Lovette Poultry Co truck
Wilkes Co apples closeup

NC Wilkes County was founded in 1777 and named after John Wilkes, a British politician who was known for his support of American independence. During the Revolutionary War, the county was the site of several important battles, including the Battle of Wilkesboro.

The county is known for its access to the outdoors. The Blue Ridge Mountains to the west and Brushy Mountains to the east ensure you’re almost always looking up to the ridges.

The area is also home to several state and local parks, including Stone Mountain State Park, W. Kerr Scott Reservoir, and Rendezvous Mountain State Park. These parks offer visitors opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities.

In addition to its natural beauty, Wilkes County is also known for its rich musical heritage. The area is home to many traditional Appalachian musicians, including Doc Watson, who was born and raised in the county. The annual MerleFest music festival, named after Doc Watson's son, is held in Wilkesboro and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Wilkes County is also home to several businesses and non-profits, including Window World, Lowes, and Samaritan's Purse. The county has a strong economy and offers many job opportunities in a variety of industries. The area’s burgeoning wine scene includes wineries like Roaring River Vineyards and Raffaldini Vineyards.

Whether you’re planning a visit or considering making the move to Wilkes County, here are a few of the elements that make the area so special.

The Yadkin River Greenway in Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro

People walking on Yadkin Valley River Greenway
People riding on Yadkin valley River Greenway

The Yadkin River Greenway is a scenic and popular attraction located in Wilkes County, North Carolina. This paved trail follows the Yadkin River and offers visitors a peaceful and enjoyable experience in nature.

The Greenway is approximately 6.5 miles long and connects the towns of Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro. It is a popular destination for walkers, runners, and cyclists, as it offers a safe and flat surface for exercise and recreation.

The trail runs alongside the river and offers visitors a chance to see the river up close and personal. There are also several benches and picnic areas along the trail, making it a great spot for a relaxing break or picnic lunch.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Near Western Wilkes County and Deep Gap

Vista of Blue Ridge Mountains from Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs for 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, and the Wilkes County area is located near some of the most scenic sections of the Parkway. Visitors can easily access the Parkway from Wilkes County and enjoy a scenic drive through the mountains.

One of the closest sections of the Parkway to Wilkes County is the Doughton Park area. This section of the Parkway features several hiking trails, picnic areas, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Visitors can also explore the Brinegar Cabin, a restored log cabin that offers a glimpse into the lives of early settlers in the area.

Another popular section of the Parkway near Wilkes County is the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. This area features a historic mansion, hiking trails, and a beautiful lake. Visitors can explore the mansion, walk the trails, or enjoy a picnic on the grounds.

Stone Mountain State Park in Roaring Gap

Stone Mountain State Park

Stone Mountain and Stone Mountain State Park are iconic natural landmarks located in Wilkes County, North Carolina. The mountain is a large granite dome that rises over 600 feet above the surrounding landscape, and the park covers over 14,000 acres of land.

Stone Mountain State Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide variety of activities and attractions. The park features over 18 miles of hiking trails, including a strenuous climb to the summit of Stone Mountain. Along the way, hikers can enjoy scenic views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

Stone Mountain State Park also has a rich cultural history. The park is home to several historic structures, including the Hutchinson Homestead, a restored farmstead that offers visitors a glimpse into the lives of early settlers in the area.

Stone Mountain itself is also a popular attraction. The granite dome offers a challenging climb to the summit, where hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The mountain is also a popular destination for rock climbers, with numerous climbing routes available.

Kerr Scott Lake in Wilkesboro

Kerr Scott Lake

Kerr Scott Lake is a scenic and popular destination located in Wilkes County, North Carolina. The lake is situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and covers over 1,475 acres. It is a popular destination for fishing, boating, camping, and other outdoor activities.

Kerr Scott Lake also has several camping areas for visitors. The camping areas offer a variety of camping options, including tent camping, RV camping, and group camping. The campsites are equipped with fire pits, picnic tables, and other amenities. Visitors can enjoy a night under the stars and wake up to stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Mountain Biking Trails at Kerr Scott Lake and in Wilkesboro

2 people mountain biking
2 people riding mountain bikes

Kerr Scott Lake, located in Wilkes County, North Carolina, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to its fishing, boating, and camping opportunities, the lake is also home to several world-class mountain bike trails.

  • Warrior Creek: The Warrior Creek trail is a 13.5-mile loop that offers a challenging ride for intermediate and advanced riders. This flow trail features berms, jumps, rock gardens, and plenty of fun.
  • Overmountain Victory Trail (OVT): The Overmountain Victory Trail is another popular mountain bike trail at Kerr Scott Lake. This trail follows the route of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. The trail features rolling terrain and stunning views of the lake and foothills, as well as plenty of fun flow.
  • Dark Mountain: The Dark Mountain mountain bike trail is a seven to eight-mile loop that offers a challenging ride with some modest climbs, long descents, and jumps. It is a popular destination for riders looking for a challenging and exciting ride.
  • Cub Creek: Built by some of the same trail builders as Kerr Scott, the Cub Creek trail system in downtown Wilkesboro has many of the same features in a beginner-friendly package.
  • Rocky Knob and Wilson Creek: Riders searching for longer, faster, and more technical descents enjoy Rocky Knob Bike Park in Boone and Wilson Creek (“The Other Pisgah”) trails near Mortimer.

Golf and Disc Golf in Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro

2 men playing disc golf
2 women playing disc golf

Wilkes County, North Carolina, offers a variety of golf courses and disc golf courses for visitors and residents to enjoy.

One of the most popular golf courses in Wilkes County is the Oakwoods Country Club. The club features an 18-hole championship course designed by Donald Ross, one of the most renowned golf course architects in history. The course is challenging but enjoyable, with tree-lined fairways and scenic views of the surrounding mountains.

The Rolling Pines Disc Golf Course is an eighteen-hole disc golf masterpiece that plays host to several disc golf tournaments and will challenge any player.

Watersports: Kayaking, Canoeing, Tubing, and Fly Fishing in Wilkes County

Man fly-fishing

Wilkes County, North Carolina, is a picturesque destination for outdoor enthusiasts, surrounded by several scenic rivers and streams. The Yadkin River, the largest river in Wilkes County, offers a variety of water activities, including kayaking, canoeing, tubing, and fly fishing.

The river features calm stretches of water as well as faster-moving sections with small rapids. Visitors can explore the river's scenic beauty and take guided trips or rent equipment from several outfitters in the area.

Roaring River is another popular destination for outdoor activities in Wilkes County. The river is known for its clear, cool water and stunning views. Visitors can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, tubing, and fly fishing on the river. The area is home to a variety of fish species, including rainbow, brown, and brook trout, making it a great destination for anglers.

Vineyards in Wilkes County

Vineyard vista in Wilkes County

Wilkes County is a major part of the Yadkin Valley Wine Country. Several vineyards and wineries are located in the area, including the Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery, Roaring River Vineyards, Shadow Springs Vineyard, Brushy Mountain Winery, Windsor Run Cellars, Laurel Gray Vineyards, and Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery, Dobbins Creek Vineyards.

These vineyards offer visitors the chance to taste some of the finest wines in the region and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains and rivers.

Music and Festivals in Wilkes County

Wilkesboro Musicians on stage
Wilkesboro musician closeup

Wilkes County, North Carolina, is a hub of music and festivals with a rich cultural history dating back to the early 1900s. The area has produced several well-known musicians, including bluegrass pioneer Doc Watson.

The annual MerleFest music festival, held in honor of Doc’s son Merle, attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year and is one of the largest music festivals in the Southeast.

In addition to MerleFest, Wilkes County is home to several other music festivals throughout the year, including the Carolina in the Fall Music and Food Festival and the Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention. These festivals showcase a variety of music genres, including bluegrass, folk, Americana, and country.

Wilkes County also hosts several other festivals throughout the year, celebrating the area's rich history and culture. The Brushy Mountain Apple Festival, held each October, features over 400 vendors selling crafts, food, and other items. The festival is a celebration of the area's apple harvest and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

North Wilkesboro Speedway

Wilkes County, North Carolina, has a rich heritage in both NASCAR and moonshine. The area is known as the birthplace of NASCAR, and many of the sport's early pioneers hailed from Wilkes County. The area's mountainous terrain and winding roads were the perfect training ground for early NASCAR drivers, who honed their skills on the steep hills and sharp turns of the area's back roads.

After being seemingly abandoned for twenty-five years, NASCAR announced its return to the newly renovated North Wilkesboro Speedway.