Go Bonkers For Surry Sonkers! Fun Along The 7 NC Surry Sonker Trail Stops

If you haven't stood in line for a hot Surry sonker at the Rockford General Store, have you even lived? There, “candy wall, lunch, sonker” is the way of life. Yes, once you've recovered from the shock of seeing a row of well-behaved horses ponied up to the front of the store parking area, you'll feel a second “wave” when you encounter the wonderfully excessive candy wall.

Unassuming places with such memorable, endearing character are dotted all along the North Carolina Surry Sonker Trail. If this is your first time hearing the term “sonker,” you can be forgiven, but you must then act swiftly in getting yourself to a countertop with a hot-out-of-the-oven sonker pushed your way with a smile.

But what is a Surry sonker? Are all sonkers from Surry County? Is there a sonker etiquette you should know about before you go waltzing up to a Surry County sonker-serving establishment? We've got the scoop on all things Surry sonker, and summer is the most perfect time to embark on an adventure along the NC Surry Sonker Trail.

Collage of Surry sonkers

Don't stare too deeply into the Surry sonker abyss…you might never escape!

First things first — what's a Surry sonker?

A cobbler and a deep dish pie fell in love and made a Surry sonker. Taking the best of its parents' attributes, a sonker is made by mixing fruit and unformed dough, typically made sweeter with sugar (or molasses). Of course, local experts have their own secret ingredients that make their versions stand out from the crowd and keep people coming back for more. We could go on and on like Bubba Gump about the ways you can doctor up a sonker. Some serve it with a sweet glaze, others add breadcrumb topping, and of course, the choices of fruit are endless! Along the NC Surry Sonker Trail, you'll find typical flavors like strawberry, blackberry, peach, and apple, but then creative alternatives like apricots, huckleberries, and sweet potatoes have also been experimented with!

So why Surry County? Many have speculated, with a common belief that Surry County residents back in the day were quite economical in their rationing, and used fruit in a sonker as a means to make the most out of its nutrients toward the end of its ripe period. Whatever the reason for its enduring dance with our tastebuds, we're thankful for those Carolina innovators and their delicious contributions!

NC Surry Sonker Trail map

The NC Surry Sonker Trail winds through Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain, Dobson, Rockford, and Elkin.

Essential stops on the NC Surry Sonker Trail

There are currently seven places to savor a sonker on the NC Surry Sonker Trail. We've already mentioned Rockford General Store in Dobson NC; next up, we're docking in Mount Airy for Anchored Sweet Treats and Savory Eats. A peach and cherry sonker, to be exact. Run by Samantha Coleman, the bakery also serves generously-glazed cinnamon rolls, creamy cheesecake bars, mini loaf pound cakes, and an assortment of bars and cupcakes. In other words, this place is DANGEROUS! Good thing Carolina Travelers are so brave…

While you're in Mount Airy, you must must must go to another essential stop along the NC Surry Sonker Trail: Miss Angel's Heavenly Pies. You'll absolutely believe you've died and gone to dessert paradise when you attempt to stable yourself after reading the menu there. The fruit comes from Miss Angel's own farm — preservatives are never used! Additionally, all unsold baked goods are distributed to community shelters and food banks throughout the Surry County area. Baked key lime. Caramel apple. “Mayberry Tourist.” Choose from over 40 flavors of turnovers, sonkers, and other homemade pies. Then say a prayer, because Miss Angel's sonkers might actually be too divine for the human palate to fully comprehend!

You may recall that we mentioned Surry sonkers pairing exquisitely with wine. If you really want your brain zonkered by a sonker, try the Sonker Du Jour, served by Chef Mark Thrower at the Harvest Grill at Shelton Vineyards. The menu changes seasonally, and there are special NC Wine Month Prix Fixe menus available for May 1-18 and May 19-31. For spring 2024, the “Temptations” menu features a drunken carrot cake, key-lime cheesecake, and strawberry rose sonker skillet served with warm vanilla ice cream, toasted almonds, and fresh basil.

We could go on and on about all the sonker options on the NC Surry Sonker Trail, but we think it's best to leave a little mystery to this intriguing dessert/breakfast/anytime delight. Here are all seven stops on the NC Surry Sonker Trail with addresses included:

  1. Anchored Sweet Treats and Savory Eats 139 Moore Avenue, Mount Airy, NC 27030
  2. Prudence McCabe Confections 192 N Main St, Suite 400, Mount Airy, NC 27030
  3. Miss Angel's Heavenly Pies 153 N Main St, Mount Airy, NC 27030
  4. The Tilted Ladder 105-A W Main St, Pilot Mountain, NC 27041
  5. Rockford General Store 5174 Rockford Rd, Village of Rockford, Dobson, NC 27017
  6. Southern On Main 102 E Main St, Elkin, NC 28621
  7. Harvest Grill at Shelton Vineyards 230 Cabernet Lane, Dobson, NC 27017
Haze Gray Vineyards and JOLO Vineyards

Soul-restoring views at Haze Gray Vineyards (left) and JOLO Vineyards (right)

Where to stay on the NC Surry Sonker Trail

There are those who follow the NC Surry Sonker Trail and those who completely surrender to its beckoning. How do you know which kind of trailblazer you are? Well, if we posed the hypothetical scenario of staying on a vineyard while “hiking” the Surry Sonker Trail, what would your reaction be?

The decision is purely economical, right? It just makes sense to stay overnight so that you can give yourself and your group enough time to digest and really savor the flavor of each Surry sonker. And we have recommendations for a range of accommodations preferences.

If you’re wanting to channel royalty, opt for the Chateau at JOLO Vineyards in Pilot Mountain NC. Its restaurant was voted #1 of the Top 100 Romantic Restaurants in the US, making it an obvious choice for a romantic sonker getaway. The vineyard itself was rated one of the top seven wineries outside of California. Whether or not you opt to stay at JOLO — which is not technically a destination on the NC Surry Sonker Trail — it's worth checking out the “Experiences” tab on their menu. In addition to an in-house restaurant and traditional tasting experience, JOLO offers special cuvée experiences for multiple days throughout the year. It includes a flight of five wines paired with four food courses, and a *surprise* wine. Visit the JOLO website to reserve summer tasting experiences.

Looking for something more laidback? Needing to reconnect with nature? For log cabin vibes, enjoy the cottage at Haze Gray. Situated atop a former tobacco and corn farm outside of Dobson, the vineyard is owned by Deane and Becky Muhlenberg. Deane served three decades as a Navy flight officer, and everything at Haze Gray Vineyards — from the name, which draws its name from the color of US naval ships, to the tasting room wall of honor highlighting eight generations of the the Muhlenberg family in military dress — pays homage to the bravery, integrity, and sacrifice of those who have served and continue to serve. Speaking of serving…the vineyard's wines are grown by US veterans, as well! 

Kids smiling at The Farm in Dobson NC

Kid-friendly fun on The Farm in Dobson NC!

Pair your Surry sonker and wine with fun NC summer events!

On June 1, you can celebrate NC Trail Days on a special kayak expedition followed by a glass of wine and live music at Carolina Heritage Vineyard and Winery. We definitely recommend kayaking first before rewarding yourself with a glass of wine and sonker at this Elkin event. You can bring your own kayak or borrow one on site.

 Visit The Farm in Dobson for hayrides through the peach orchard, blackberry-picking, and catch-and-release fishing. Family fun activities are included in your admission, including:

  • The Pumpkin Barn
  • Ladder ball
  • Tether ball
  • Ring toss
  • Connect 4
  • Inflatable slide
  • Jump pillow
  • Bounce house
  • Bubble station
  • More!

If you're in search of more fun, food-related things to do in and around Surry County, check out our story on another foodie tradition local to Surry County: ground steak!

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