In our five-part Winter Wild monthly adventure series, we go off trail to explore some of the wildest places in the region. Our January hike will be to the Butner Game Lands, more than 40,000 acres of wetlands and bottomland woods on the north side of Falls Lake.
It’s a common challenge over the holidays: you have family and friends visiting from afar — now, what are you going to do with them?
Take them on an adventure! Or, rather, let us help you take them on an adventure!
We’ve got several outdoor adventures this holiday season that are ideal for getting everyone out of the house and showing off the region’s great outdoor attributes!
As we noted in Wednesday’s post, February is a great month for hiking because of its link, in the Southeast at least, between the last of the best of winter and the beginning of spring. One particular upside of February is that you can start thinking about heading back up to the mountains. Sure, maybe not the highest peaks, where winter will hold court into late March, but certainly along the Blue Ridge Escarpment — and not far beyond.
February: such a great, yet under-appreciated, month to hike.
It’s still winter, and some of the best days of the season — the bluest of skies with bracing cold air — remain ahead. Yet it’s also a period of transition in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Yeah, it can be cold. But it’s also the month when temperatures begin warming enough to launch the earliest signs of spring: the spring peepers singing away in their vernal ponds, the trout lilies pushing through the leaf litter to add the first delicate splash of color to the stark winterscape.
We’re big fans of hiking at night. We love the intimacy of the dark woods, the increased sense of camaraderie with our fellow hikers, the mystery of what lies beyond the glow of our headlamp. That’s why we created our Tuesday Night Hikes series (our next hike is Tuesday, btw; details here), and also why we keep an eye out for night hikes to recommend.
Sunday was the perfect day of winter hiking. On Monday, it was sunny, 70 and springlike. I savored both, I didn’t know what to make of either.
I love winter hiking. Waiting for Sunday afternoon’s hike to start, I marveled at the perfect storm of conditions that would make for a great day on the trail: cloudless skies, crisp air scrubbed cleaner by a gusting wind, a temperature struggling to get much above 50. These were the conditions that stick in memory. One of my earliest memories is of a day like this: a Sunday afternoon in January of 1966 — a mite colder perhaps, but otherwise identical — exploring Cherry Creek on what was then the outskirts of Denver with Billy Skinner, reveling in the far-flung adventures (we were a quarter mile from home) of two 9-year-olds. The sprawling cottonwoods along the banks sheltered us from both the cold wind coming down the Front Range as well as the pressures of third grade. Bellview Elementary School never seemed so far away.
As a kid, it was a favorite thing to do: lay in the grass on a lazy weekend and watch the clouds drift by. Where did they come from? Where are they headed? Why is that moose wearing a bowler? Talk about escapism! It was even better than watching Jonny Quest escape the Terrible Turu on Saturday mornings.