Getting to the top of the mountain is great. Getting back down even better.
I realized that, again, today after finally conquering — after two unsuccessful tries — the Woody Ridge Trail in the Black Mountains, then starting back down the east-facing flank I’d come up. Coming up, pristine blue sky above, clouds in the distant distance. But when I headed back over the crest of the Black Mountains, the highest mountains east of South Dakota’s Black Hills, and emerged through a thick balsam fir forest onto a knob looking east —read more
One of the many things I like about taking a long ride, run or hike is that it purges my mind of life’s daily distractions — bills, deadlines, squirrels. The resulting void clears vital space for creative thinking, for random thoughts, ideas and whatnot to bubble up from the subconscious and get some air time. Usually, this is good thing. Sometimes it is not.read more
Every Wednesday through Thanksgiving, GetGoingNC.com will feature a hike in North Carolina that just about anyone can do. It won’t be a long hike (though we may throw in a recommendation for going long), it won’t be strenuous hike (there could be a hill-climb option as well). The hikes will be timed to coincide with the changing colors of fall. This week, the 1.4-mile Cedar Point Tideland Trail in the Croatan National Forest.read more
Yesterday I may have been a tad premature with my early morning proclamation that the sun, after a week’s hiatus, had returned. But eventually, at least here in Cary, it was out in full force by mid-afternoon. At which point, after a morning of vigorous wet-leaf raking, we piled the family into the minivan and spend the remainder at the day at one of our favorite, off-the-beaten-path parklands: Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve.read more
Every Wednesday through Thanksgiving, GetGoingNC.com will feature a hike in North Carolina that just about anyone can do. It won’t be a long hike (though we may throw in a recommendation for going long), it won’t be strenuous hike (thought there could be a hill-climb option as well). The hikes will be timed to coincide with the changing colors of fall. This week, three loop trail options totaling 5 miles at Medoc Mountain State Park.
Medoc Mountain State Park Distance: Variable, from .75 miles to 5 miles. Type of route: Loops. Getting there: From the east: From I-95, take exit 160 and go west on NC 561 for nine miles. Turn left on SR 1322, which will take you into the park. For the trails recommended, go past the Visitor Center to the second parking area. From the south: Take NC 561 east from Louisburg for 30 miles, then turn right on SR 1002. Go 0.9 miles, then go left on NC 322 for another 0.9 miles, the the park entrance. Map: A trail map is available at the Visitor Center. You can also find one here. Highlights: Solitude. Even on a peak fall afternoon, the place is pretty much yours at this off-the-beaten-path park. (In August, Medoc Mountain had just 5,338, compared with 69,912 visitors to Crowders Mountain State Park in August, 65,105 visitors to Umstead State Park and 63,063 to Pilot Mountain State Park.) Why it’s easy and what you’ll see: Medoc Mountain is on the fringe of the Piedmont, where rolling hills give out to coastal plain. But the hiking reflects both geographic regions, with the trails relatively flat and easy, the landscape pure Piedmont hardwood forest. The park also boasts an unusual human history. Whereas most other state parks in the region are on retired farmland, Medoc Mountain was the site of a 19th vineyard, one of the first in the nation. In fact, local vintner Sidney Weller named the park’s namesake, 325-foot “peak” after a French province known for its vineyards. Begin your journey at Medoc Mountain on the 0.75-mile Stream Loop, taking on the 1.25-mile Discovery Loop midway. If you’re up for more upon your return, the 3.0-mile Bluff Loop offers some especially nice encounters with Little Fishing Creek, which bisects the park. More info: Call the park office at 252.586.6588, or visit the Web site.read more