by Crystal Cockman
This past weekend, a friend and I went to Morrow Mountain State Park and hiked the Fall Mountain Trail. It is a beautiful trail that follows Lake Tillery for a ways and then climbs Fall Mountain, where views of the surrounding mountains and lakes are spectacular. This trail is 4.1 miles in length and is a loop, so you don’t have to backtrack for any of the hike. This time of year the leaves are off the trees which makes the views that much more remarkable.
While on our hike, I was surprised by just how quiet it was. We arrived about 11:00am on Sunday, and there were no other cars in the parking lot. We saw only one other couple on the trail with their dog, near the end of our hike. You can start by the boathouse and hike north along the lake, which is what we did, or you can start at the other end of the parking lot and hike around from the other direction. The way we went had a more gradual ascent, but you climb for a longer amount of time as opposed to starting at the opposite end and hiking up a steeper grade for a shorter amount of time.
We did hear some crows cawing along the riverside, but they flew away as we approached. We saw one pileated woodpecker and heard at least one other. The straight-line windstorm of a few years ago had knocked down some trees in certain sections of the hike, which likely made good foraging habitat for woodpeckers. We also saw and heard a downy woodpecker. These small woodpeckers are acrobatic flyers and have a black-and-white checked pattern on the wings, black and white stripes on their head, and a white stripe down the center of their back, and males have a small red patch on the rear of their head. They are very similar to another species of woodpecker, the hairy woodpecker. Hairy woodpeckers are slightly larger with a larger bill. But the easiest way to distinguish the two is the call – the downy woodpecker’s whinnying call descends in pitch as it goes, whereas the hairy stays at the same pitch. The trail descends down the mountain and into a lovely area with a rocky and clear stream. The green of the holly trees and the golden beech leaves present a beautiful landscape.
The Dr. Francis Kron homestead is located at the foot of Fall Mountain. Dr. Kron was a Prussian emigrant who was born in 1798 and came to the United States in 1823. Six months before he came he married Mary Catherine Delamothe. Her uncle, Henry Delamothe, was already living in Henderson in Montgomery County. A friend of The LandTrust who is also a local history buff believes that the grave of Henry Delamothe may be located on the Capel Property, which The LandTrust protected a few years ago, at the mouth of the Uwharrie River. Kron taught French at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1824 before going to medical college in Pennsylvania around 1829-1830.
Kron is known as the first medical doctor to settle and practice medicine in the southern Piedmont of North Carolina. His home, doctor’s office, greenhouse, and infirmary were reconstructed in 1960s and appear today as they were in 1870. The Kron family named their plantation Attaway Hill. He traveled around the countryside to treat people in their homes. He was a physician, scientist, and horticulturalist. His detailed notes on his life present a great view of what it was like to be a country doctor in the mid-1800s. The next time you have the opportunity to take a hike, consider visiting the Fall Mountain trail and Kron homestead at Morrow Mountain State Park. You can enjoy a beautiful landscape and learn a little about the history of the region, as well.