As you contemplate your plans to celebrate Independence Day tomorrow, contemplate this: what would be the most appropriate way to celebrate your independence, that sense of truly expressing your freedom?
With a hike, of course.
In honor of Independence Day, we’ve come up with 11 hikes that capture — in name at least — the spirit of the day. Find one near you and enjoy. (For additional information, check the links at the end of the list.)
American Tobacco Trail, Triangle (Chatham, Durham and Wake counties). 21 miles (consumable in smaller portions). The ATT follows an abandoned rail line (so it’s not too hilly) linking New Hill in Wake County with downtown Durham. Part of it is natural surface, part paved, part both: something for everyone. Also: bicycling, horseback riding.
American Beech Trail, Raven Rock State Park, Lillington. 0.5 miles. Introduce your little ones to the freedom of hiking on this half-mile Track Trail, a nationwide network of family-oriented trails that included brochures for a self-guided tour and signs explaining what you’re seeing.
Bald Eagle Trail, Greensboro. 4.1 miles. Tracing the north shoreline of Lake Higgins, the most intimate of Greensboro’s three watershed lakes, there’s good birding on this stretch, including a possible glimpse of out national bird. Tack on an additional 1.3 miles with the Bald Eagle Loop, mid-hike. Also: mountain biking.
Bicentennial Greenway Trail, High Point. 7.5 miles. This paved path is the southern end of a greenway that, with a gap or two, joins with Greensboro’s Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway, to link High Point on the south with Greensboro’s watershed lakes to the north. Part of the path passes through the Piedmont Environmental Center.
CCC Loop Trail, Singletary Lake State Park, Kelly. 1 mile. The Civilian Conservation Corps, one of President Roosevelt’s innovations that helped lift the country out of the Depression in the 1930s, built this trail, which wanders through a Carolina Bay Forest of bay shrubs, cedar, cypress, gum and poplars.
Eagle Rock Trail, George Washington National Forest, Capon Springs, Virginia. 7.2 miles. Great views abound on this hike, including Paddy Gap, and the gap between Paddy Mountain and Short Mountain. Another plus: according to HikingUpward.com, it doesn’t draw as many hikers you you might expect.
Lower CCC Trail, South Mountains State Park, Connelly Springs. 2.5 miles. Another salute to the CCC, this trail, despite its name, follows a ridge in North Carolina’s largest state park that divides two watersheds (Henry Fork and Murray Branch) and penetrates a forest burned by last fall’s wildfires. Also: mountain biking, horseback riding.
Mountains-to-Sea Trail, statewide, from Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smokies to Jockey’s Ridge on the coast, passing through 37 counties along the way. 1,175 miles. What’s more American than the ambition of building a trail nearly 1,200 miles across an entire state? And there are so many great sections to sample, some of which are likely near you.
Nat Greene Trail, Lake Brandt, Greensboro. 3.6 miles. One of the most popular trails among the 40-plus miles of trail that trace Greensboro’s three watershed lakes on the north side of town. This one, along the south shore of Lake Brandt, is named for the major general of the Continental Army responsible for shooshing the British from the Carolinas.
Overmountain Victory Trail, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina. 87 miles. This National Historic Trail traces the route used by patriot militia during the Kings Mountain campaign of 1780. The park website (below) helps you find segments of the trail near you.
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Learn more about these 10 hikes by clicking on the links below: