Spend a tasty day driving the Sonker Trail in Surry Count, NC. This is a fun and easy family day trip from Charlotte that lets you explore a new area of this beautiful state.
Though our family has lived in Charlotte, North Carolina for almost a decade, I was utterly clueless about the long history behind the delicious Carolina Sonker Trail in Surry County, NC.
When an editor from Taste of Home reached out to ask what I knew about the classic blueberry sonker from our state, I had no idea what she was talking about!
I quickly discovered that fruit sonkers are the specialty of one particular county in North Carolina and that there's a trail of restaurants that serve them only an hour and half from our home in South Charlotte.
I took one look at the Sonker Trail map and hollered "DAY TRIP!"
I had the greatest time researching this old fashioned recipe on behalf of Taste of Home. I'll be sure to share the link to my article as soon as it is published so you can read more about this unique recipe.
But if you want to explore the Surry Sonker Trail in person and taste some authentic sonkers for yourself, here's how to plan a day trip with your kids.
Know Before You Go
Before you hop in the car, there are a few things you should know to make your drive go smoothly:
- Check the Hours: I've listed links to each restaurant on the trail. Double check that the ones you want to visit are open when you'll be visiting.
- The Flavors: The daily flavor offerings at every restaurant on the trail change from day to day. If you have your heart set on trying a certain flavor, many locations will let you call ahead and make a request.
- Grab a Map: Most locations on the trail will have a printed copy of the trail map on site you can pick up for free. This will be especially handy when you're trying to navigate without cell service in the more rural areas.
- Double Check the Participants: Sadly, some of the restaurants on the trail have come and gone over the years. You can verify who is still operating by visiting the Sonker Trail site.
- Go Hungry: Be sure you have a hearty appetite. We ordered just one sonker at each restaurant so we could pace ourselves.
1. Southern on Main in Elkin, NC
If you're planning a day trip that begins in Charlotte, the first stop on the Sonker Trail will bring you to Southern on Main.
Southern on Main
102 E. Main St.
Elkin, NC 28621
We left our home at 9:30 am so that we could arrive in Elkin at just before the restaurant's open.
We requested a table on their darling outside patio that is strung with lights and offers plenty of shade, even at midday.
The kids and I skipped breakfast that morning so we'd have a hearty appetite for tasting sonkers all day so at this point we were more than a little hungry.
We ordered a very simple lunch to help balance out the sugar and shared the few dishes family-style. The fried green tomatoes and caesar salad were the perfect starters.
The hero of the meal was the apple sonker with vanilla ice cream. Isn't she beautiful??
I asked our helpful server about their special recipe and was told:
- The base is a prepared apple pie filling.
- The sonker topping is a biscuit dough that is flattened like a pancake and griddled in butter.
- The base and topping are prepared separately and then assembled before serving.
It was absolutely delicious. We loved how the crust was so crispy, the texture was our favorite from the entire day.
2. Skull Camp Smokehouse & Brewery in Elkin, NC
From Southern on Main, it is just a few minutes drive to head over to the second stop on the trail: the Skull Camp Smokehouse & Brewery.
Skull Camp Smokehouse & Brewery
2000 N. Bridge St.
Elkin, NC 28621
The Skull Camp is so much bigger than it appears from the road. There's outdoor dining available in both the front and back of the building and multiple dining rooms inside.
We requested a picnic table on the patio behind the restaurant. With all the driving that day, it was nice to have some fresh air.
One kiddo wasn't a fan of the fried green tomatoes and was still hungry for food other than dessert. So I ordered the pretzel appetizer thinking we could share.
We didn't expect the pretzel to be bigger than our heads!! This ginormous snack ended up being our fuel for the car for the rest of the day. We took it in a to-go box and the kids nibbled on it between stops for the rest of the afternoon.
As with all the restaurants on the trail, the flavor options at the Skull Camp Smokehouse change from day to day.
We happened to visit on the day they bake their sonkers so our options were limited to just apple. A triple berry sonker was in the oven during our visit but wouldn't have been ready to serve for another couple hours.
We ordered the apple sonker with three spoons and it arrived on this cute metal serving tray:
I asked our friendly server about their special recipe and was told:
- The apple filling is made in house.
- The pie-like topping and apple filling are baked altogether in the oven.
- They bake the sonkers once a week in large batches.
The whole apple sonker was still warm when it was served and the ice cream was gently melting on top. The filling was strongly seasoned with cinnamon and spices and utterly delicious. The crust was flaky and the dessert reminded us of apple pie.
3. Anchored Bakery in Mount Airy, NC
After the Skull Camp, you'll leave Elkin and drive over to Mount Airy, a short 30 minute hop away.
There are two spots in Mount Airy on the trail, we decided to visit Anchored Bakery first.
139 Moore Ave.
Mount Airy, NC 27030
Anchored Bakery is a cute little pastry shop that has a big glass case full of treats and a handful of cafe tables for eating your dessert.
The owner was serving up goodies on the day we visited so I was able to ask her about how she makes her sonker varieties.
The flavor of the day on our visit was a totally delicious cherry sonker. I learned that:
- The entire recipe comes from her grandma and was completely unique to the other sonkers we tested.
- The topping was thick and cake-like and is baked directly on top of the filling.
- The cherries are very juicy and have a hint of vanilla.
- The owner tries to source all of the fruits for her sonkers from local farms so they are the freshest possible.
After two apple sonkers, it was refreshing to try a new flavor. I love cherry desserts so this was one of my favorites from the day.
4. Miss Angel's Heavenly Pies in Mount Airy, NC
Parking in Mount Airy can be a bit of a challenge, especially on crowded weekends. If you've got lots of energy to burn, you could walk from Anchored Bakery over to the fourth stop on the trail, Miss Angel's Heavenly Pies.
Miss Angel's Heavenly Pies
153 N. Main St.
Mount Airy, NC 27030
Miss Angel's is right on Main Street in Mount Airy. On the day we visited, they were hosting the monthly Cool Cars Cruise-In. Awesome antique cars lined both sides of the street.
We strolled up and down before stopping in for more sonker to stretch our legs and burn off the wiggles from my kids.
Miss Angel's was super busy during our visit because of the car show happening right outside. The line was long to place an order and the day was getting away from us.
We took a peek inside but decided to skip the crowd and didn't get to actually taste one of the several sonker flavors that were available during the visit:
From what we observed, the sonkers at Miss Angel's are made very similarly to pie with a crust on both the top and bottom of the seasonal fruit fillings.
5. Rockford General Store in Dobson, NC
The final stop for our Sonker Trail Day Trip brings you to the Rockford General Store in Dobson.
Warning, the store is definitely farther out of town than any of the other stops on the trail. The GPS on my phone was able to have service enough to get us there but once we tried to leave, the map couldn't connect to the satellites.
Be sure to have a plan on how to get back to the highway before you leave Mount Airy, just in case.
Rockford General Store
5174 Rockford Rd.
Dobson, NC 27017
We were easily able to park right outside this historical store and headed inside not knowing what to expect.
Inside is the cutest old school general store with all the basics: huge jars of candy for the kids, general items for adults, a few tables for sitting and eating, and counter service for the sonkers.
I was able to talk to the baker herself about the peach sonker we tasted during our visit. I learned:
- Everything in the sonker is made from scratch based on a family recipe.
- The peaches were fresh and juicy and cut nice and thick.
- The topping is similar to pie crust but was somehow thicker and fluffy.
Despite all the sonkers we'd just eaten, this one was so good we inhaled over half of it before I remembered to take the picture!
This sonker was by far my favorite from the entire day and made the entire trip worth it.
So don't get tempted to cut the trail drive short, be sure to finish off in Dobson or you may miss the best sonker on the trail.