Wilkes County is like a huge bowl, with the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains (Eastern Continental Divide) forming much of the northern and western rim.
Radiating out from the western and northwestern rims toward the center of the county are a series of ridges. Clockwise starting in southwestern Wilkes, they are Elk, Dividing, Yates, Judd and Burke ridges.
Originating on slopes of the Blue Ridge and flowing through valleys between these ridges are Yadkin River headwaters tributaries Elk Creek, Stony Fork, the two prongs of Lewis Fork and the three prongs of the Reddies River.
Continuing clockwise, Mulberry Creek, the three prongs of the Roaring River and Big Elkin Creek similarly flow from slopes of the Blue Ridge and feed the Yadkin.
The West Prong of the Roaring River begins in the Thurmond Chatham Game Land. The Middle Prong if the Roaring River begins in the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Doughton Park and the East Prong starts in Stone Mountain State Park.
Smaller tributaries entering the Yadkin from the north include Fish Dam, Millers, Tucker Hole, Rock and Bugaboo creeks.
The Brushy Mountains form the southern rim of the bowl that is Wilkes.
Primary streams flowing out of the Brushies and into the Yadkin are, west to east, Beaver, Warrior, Moravian, Cub, Fishing and Brier creeks. Smaller tributaries include Blood, Whites, Cranberry and Swain creeks.
Three additional Yadkin River watershed streams originate in the Brushy Mountains but end outside Wilkes.
The largest of the three is the South Yadkin River, which begins on the southern slopes of Pores Knob. Rocky Creek starts nearby to the east.
Both head south, then southeast and are crossed by Interstate 77 south of Union Grove before Rocky Creek flows into the South Yadkin River in Iredell County.
After leaving the Brushies, Hunting Creek parallels N.C. 115 in southeastern Wilkes and flows through northern Iredell before entering the South Yadkin River in Davie County.
The South Yadkin continues through Davie County and into Rowan County, where it enters the Yadkin at the point where High Rock Lake begins.
The Yadkin River spills out the eastern end of Wilkes, where that side of the bowl doesn’t exist, to begins its journey to the Atlantic Ocean near Georgetown, S.C.
Meanwhile, the bowl (upper Yadkin River Valley) is remarkably well blessed with water.
The hundreds of miles of tributary streams in Wilkes mentioned above, like spokes on a wheel, should leave this county well positioned as it becomes increasingly important to have ample water resources.