Escapes to fit your adventure needs

We hate to hike alone. 

So when a scant few sign up for a hike or trip — or worse, no one shoes up at the trailhead — we try hard to figure out why this particular hike didn’t resonate. More importantly, we try to figure out what might.

For instance, the past couple of years we noticed that attendance for our backpacking trips dropped markedly in fall, the prime time for being in the backcountry in the Southeast: cool temperatures, dry air, fall color. After asking around we learned something that should have been obvious: come September, most folks have burned through their vacation time. “I’d love to do a trip in the fall. I just don’t have the time,” was a popular response.

So this fall we came up with our Weekend Quick Escapes series. Leave Friday evening after work, pick a destination not more than a two-hour drive, hike to a campsite not much more than a mile in, set up camp (the latter all in the dark, of course, but that’s part of the fun). Explore all day Saturday, hike out Sunday and be on the road and back home by late afternoon.

That idea resonated: our first three WQEs — to Rock Castle Gorge, Doughton Park and the Birkhead Wilderness Area — sold out quickly. So, we just added a fourth, the first weekend in December, to Falls Lake .

What about midweek?

We also heard from a number of folks who were either retired or had flexible work schedules and were keen on getting out during the week. 

But to what extent? we wondered. So we conducted a survey.

Turns out you’d like to either take a day hike ranging from 4 to 7 miles (75 percent of respondents), or you’d like to do an overnight trip (62.5 percent).

As for the latter, we already have a midweek trip to Mount Mitchell planned for later in the month (Tuesday-Thursday, Oct. 22-24). You also thought one of our coastal state parks might make a good midweek overnight: look for just such a trip to Carolina Beach State Park in early 2020. And while all of you like to hike, not all of you are into camping. Likewise, look for a midweek cabin-based escape after the first of the year. 

As for the midweek day hikes, we’ve already schedule one in the Triangle area, at Eno River State Park, on Nov. 6, and will do more in 2020. Most will more than likely be on Wednesday mornings (your preference). 

Back by popular demand

Reflecting on what you’ve liked in the past, we’ll be announcing two winter programs shortly:

  • Tuesday Night Hikes. Starting in November after the time change, we’ll hold two Tuesday night hikes a month through February, with one Saturday night hike in January. The hikes will start at 7 and range from 2-4 miles. The Saturday night hike will be closer to 5. 
  • Winter Wild Series. Once a month, from December through March, we’ll hold a largely off-trail hike in the 5- to 8-mile range. These hikes utilize some existing trail, but rely primarily on long-abandoned roadbeds and off-trail navigation to reach places not many people visit. 

We’ll also be announcing our winter/spring lineup of hikes/trips/classes in November. Those, too, will reflect what you’ve been telling us you’d like to do and what you’ve responded to in the past. Mostly, though, they reflect one irrefutable fact.

We really do hate to hike alone.

Join us!

GetHiking! Midweek Assault on Mount Mitchell, Black Mountain Campground basecamp, Tuesday, Oct. 22 through Thursday, Oct. 24. Includes a 5.5-mile climb (gaining 3,700 vertical feet) to Mount Mitchell on Wednesday and a hike along the Black Mountain Crest Trail Thursday. Learn more and sign up here.

GetHiking! Wednesday morning Midweek Escape along the Eno River, Eno River State Park, Durham, Nov. 6, 9 a.m. Five trails, seven miles, Piedmont fall color at its best. Learn more and sign up here.

GetBackpacking! Weekend Quick Escape on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Falls Lake, Durham/Wake counties, Dec. 6-8. We start after work on Friday, spend all day Saturday on the trail, hike out early Sunday afternoon. Learn more and sign up here.

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