Classic Weekend

Day hikes are nice, but come fall, embrace the weekend

How far can you hike in a weekend?

A lot farther than you can in a day.

Take this past weekend. As part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail’s 42nd birthday celebration, our group of dedicated hikers hiked 21 miles on the MST on Saturday, about the same distance on Sunday. We hiked all day in an effort to raise money for the MST — at least $2,600, and counting — and its continued development across the state.

We set up base camp Friday evening at the Julian Price Campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway, got up early Saturday and hiked from the Boone’s Trace Overlook south through meadows and forest, up and over Moses Cone Memorial Park, hiked down to Trout Lake, then up Rich Mountain and, finally, along Boone’s Fork back to camp. Sunday, we got up and did it again, this time from the Northwest Trading Post south through more meadows and woods to the Osborne Mountain Overlook on the Parkway. 

We hiked both days, all day. Because we could.

And we could, because we embraced the entire weekend, not a mere day hike’s worth.

We here at GetHiking! are big fans of the weekend hiking getaway, which we call GetHiking! Classic Weekends. We started doing them in 2014, we’ve been doing them ever since. And we’re especially fond of our fall Classic Weekends, which capitalize on the best hiking of the year in the Southeast. 

Now, we recognize that squeezing a weekend into your busy fall calendar can be a challenge, what with the logistics of planning. We try and take some of the sting out of the preparation by covering most of the food, including breakfasts, trail snacks and lunch. (People typically eat before they arrive Friday evening and eat dinner in a nearby town after hiking Saturday.) Pack your tent, your sleep kit, your clothes — that’s pretty much it on your end. We also tap our years of experience to take you on the most scenic trails around.

Here’a where we’re headed this fall:

Mount Rogers/Grayson Highlands

Virginia 

Hiking, biking 

Sept. 20-22

Join us for a weekend of biking and hiking in southwestern Virginia. Saturday, we’ll bike the iconic Virginia Creeper Trail, from the top of Whiteside Mountain into Damascus, Virginia, Trail Town USA. The Virginia Creeper follows an old rail line (the rails and ties long since replaced by finely crushed gravel) for 17 miles into Damascus. (Not into biking? We’ll have a group headed to the Grayson Highlands/Mount Rogers area for an 8-mile hike.) Late Saturday afternoon we’ll explore Damascus, the trail-friendliest town in the U.S. Sunday, we’ll hike the Appalachian Trail from near Whitetop Mountain to Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia. Includes camping, bike rental, one dinner, two breakfasts, two lunches and trail snacks.

Price Lake on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blowing Rock

Hiking 

Oct. 4-6 

Yup, the same Price Lake our MST crew camped at this past weekend. The big difference? We won’t be hiking 42 miles on this one. Saturday morning we’ll hike the 5-mile Boone’s Fork Trail out of camp. If you’re into mountain water, this hike is for you: the trail spends most of its time along Boone’s Fork, which drops and pools, drops and pools through a series of boulder fields. You could spend the day, even in early October, soaking, sunning, soaking, sunning … . In the afternoon, also from the campground, we do the 3-mile hike around Price Lake. Highlight: the view across the water of Grandfather Mountain. Sunday, it’s down the road to Moses Cone Memorial Park for a 5-mile out-and-back hike to Rich Mountain, on the aforementioned network of carriage trails. 

Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of South Dakota’s Black Hills

GetHiking! Midweek Assault on Mount Mitchell 

Burnsville

Hiking

Oct. 22-24 

A weekend-like trip with the advantage of not being on a crowded fall weekend. Rather, on this trip we arrive Tuesday at the Briar Bottom Group Campground and establish camp. Wednesday, we rise early for the 5.5-mile hike from the campground to the top of Mount Mitchell, at 6,684 feet the highest spot in the East (the hike gains about 3,700 vertical feet). Thursday, we drive to the top of Mount Mitchell State Park to explore the Black Mountain Crest Trail, much of which is above 6,000 feet. 

Paddling the peaceful New River

New River State Park 

Laurel Springs

Hiking, paddling

Oct. 11-13 

It’s still warm enough to paddle, yet fall is sneaking into the surrounding peaks — the perfect time to visit New River State Park. Saturday morning, we’ll paddle a placid stretch of the New River, Saturday afternoon we’ll take a hike at Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. Sunday, we hike at Elk Knob State Park. Expect to see fall color. Includes camping, boat rental, one dinner, two breakfasts, two lunches and trail snacks.

For more information and to sign up, click on the links below:

  • Price Lake, go here.
  • Mount Rogers/Grayson Highlands, go here.
  • GetHiking! Midweek Assault on Mount Mitchell, go here.
  • New River State Park, go here.

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