On Saturday, November 9, the staff at Morrow Mountain State Park will open the mountain top parking lot and picnic area for the first time since June 13. On that day, Morrow Mountain State Park and the surrounding area was struck by a fierce thunderstorm containing straight-line winds in excess of 70 miles per hour.
As a result, multiple buildings and vehicles were damaged or destroyed in Morrow Mountain State Park and thousands of downed or damaged trees clogged campsites, parking lots, roadways, and trails. Great swaths of destroyed trees laid bare many of the southern slopes of Morrow Mountain and the mountain top summit. Even more dangerous were the numerous tree tops and limb, damaged during the storm, and left hanging menacingly over the park facilities; threatening those walking, driving, or recreating beneath them.
Staff from state parks all over North Carolina, along with professional contractors and volunteers, are finishing the removal of all debris and known hazards in the road to the top of the mountain and the mountain top picnic area.
The storm ripped open the tree canopy in many areas, and state park staff used this opportunity to clear the historic vistas offering views from the top of the mountain that may not have been seen in decades.
“I truly regret that park visitors have not been able to enjoy the view from the top of Morrow Mountain for almost five months,” State Park Superintendent Greg Schneider said, “but the newly restored vistas are spectacular.”
Over the past year, the state park system has been constructing a new easily-accessible bathroom at the summit of Morrow Mountain for the comfort of the park’s visitors. That restroom, nearly completed when the storm struck, has now been completed, however an unexpected incident has delayed the project.
On September 10, the underground power line servicing the summit of Morrow Mountain was broken in several places. Whether damaged by trees uprooted during the storm or struck by lightning, the line was at the end of its designed service life and will have to be replaced to restore water and power to the mountain top restroom and water fountains. That replacement line is being designed and should be in place next year. In the interim, port-a-potties will be placed near the new restroom building.
With the opening of the summit area of Morrow Mountain, Morrow Mountain Trail and Sugarloaf Trail will be opened to hiking. Park staff is asking hikers for Morrow Mountain and Sugarloaf Trails to park at the Summit Area Parking Lot as the Bridle Trail Parking lot is still being used to store debris, vehicles, and equipment being utilized in the cleanup of the remainder of the hiking and bridle trails. All trails, hiking and bridle, at Morrow Mountain State Park should re-open for use within the next few weeks.
Morrow Mountain State Park
49104 Morrow Mountain Rd
Albemarle, NC 28001