Winter — such a misunderstood season. For too many, the notion of hibernation learned in elementary school seems to have stuck: it’s cold, hunker down, stay inside until spring. While that notion may apply to cold-blooded types in more northerly climates, hibernation isn’t an approved practice in North Carolina, where daytime highs around 50 and sunshine are common occurrences.
So what keeps us from, say, hitting the trail on a regular basis?
Motivation both in terms of knowledge, of knowing how to dress and cope with cooler weather, motivation in terms of having a reason to get out and hike. Out eight-week GetHiking! Winter Series of Sunday afternoon hikes aims to address that issue. First, we provide you with the knowledge to cope with the cold, with handouts on layering and how to hike in the cold. Then, we offer the motivation to get out, with our Sunday afternoon hikes. Each Sunday at 1 p.m., we visit a different trail network in the Triangle for a hike of 4 miles (to start) up to 8 miles (at the end of the series). You’ve got a hiking community, you’ve got a reason to hike. Another reason: by the time warm weather does roll around, you won’t be coming off the bench from a four-month hiatus — you’ll be in peak season form!
Not a hiker — yet. We also have a Winter Series for Beginners. We help you get up to speed with what you need to bring on a hike, how to dress, even thoughts on where you can hike once you’re comfortable hiking on your own.
Both programs start this Sunday.
Now, on to what else is happening this weekend:
Eno River Association Winter Hike Series: Cox Mountain Trail, Sunday, 2 p.m., Eno River State Park, Durham. On Sunday, the Eno River Association launches its 49th year of winter hikes throughout the Eno River Valley. The hikes are typically 2 – 2.5 hours long and emphasize learning about this vital watershed. This Sunday’s kickoff hike: 4.1 miles on the Cox Mountain Trail at Eno River State Park. Loosen your legs up on the first half mile, climb to the summit, then descend and return, for a stretch, along the Eno. Learn more about this hike and the Winter Hike Series in general, here.
Meteor Shower Hike at Brumley Nature Preserve — South, Friday, 8-10 p.m., Brumley South Nature Preserve, Hillsborough. Our friends at the Triangle Land Conservancy are showcasing their newest preserve open to the public with the chance to view the Quadrantid Meteor Shower. From the parking area, the group will hike (BYOH/FL) to a clearing for the viewing. Bring a chair or tarp to sit on, dress for temperatures in the 50s. And also keep your fingers crossed that the skies have cleared. Though the event is free, pre-registration is required by going here.
National Play Outside Day: Winter Games, Saturday, 2 p.m., Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, Seven Springs. Cliffs of the Neuse S.P. comes up with some great programs, and this one certainly seems to fill the bill, even just based on this simple description: “Test your physical and mental prowess with a series of outdoor activities and games. Program geared towards elementary and middle school ages, or the young at heart.” Learn more here.
New Year Nature Journaling, Saturday, 10 a.m., Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center, Four Oaks. You’ve toyed with the idea of keeping a nature journal, but how to get started? In this one-hour session, you’ll take a stroll through the center’s preserve and learn tips and techniques for keeping both a written journal and a visual journal. $5. Learn more and register here.
GetHiking! this weekend
What are our GetHiking! groups in North Carolina and Virginia up to this weekend? Plenty, thanks for asking …
GetHiking! Charlotte: Green River Gorge and Bear Branch Loop, Saturday, January 4, 10 a.m., 3770 Green River Cove Rd., Saluda. Strenuous. 8 miles. Hike highlights: views of the Green River Gorge, hike down to the river itself. Learn more here.
GetHiking! Charlottesville: The Monticello Trail, Saturday, January 4, 10 a.m., Dairy Barn Rd., Charlottesville. Strenuous. 4.4 miles. Hike highlights: The Monticello Trail is a lovely gravel and boardwalk trail ascending through lush woods to the Visitor Center at the summit. Learn more here.
GetHiking! Charlottesville: Thunder Ridge Wilderness, Sunday, January 5, 7:45 a.m., 400 Ray C Hunt Dr., Charlottesville. Strenuous. 10 miles. Hike highlights: Petite’s Gap, Appalachian Trail, Thunder Ridge Wilderness, the Guillotine, Apple Orchard Mountain, 270 degree views, Apple Orchard Falls. Learn more here.
Live the video
Today’s video is from a holiday hike we lead at Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area. Occoneechee, in Hillsborough, is a great option if you’re looking for a mountain-like experience without driving to the mountains. Sure, it’s only 867 feet high (making it the high point of the Triangle) but it’s also got mountain laurel, rhododendron, galax and other greenery more common to the Appalachians than the Piedmont. Learn more and plan your visit here.
More Weekend Options
Looking for more options for weekend adventure? Check out our GetOut! Find An Adventure resource page here.