It has 15 miles of trail, mountain biking, camping, cabins, birdwatching and paddling through swampy area where the course of the Neuse River is constantly changing. It’s a 2,800-acre outdoor adventure playground and it’s less than an hour’s drive from the Triangle.
As we transition into spring, our hiking genes kick in. We think not only of our favorite two-hour hikes, but also of those hikes that present a greater challenge, that will prepare us for the epic mountain hikes we hope to take this summer, whether in our own Southern Appalachians or beyond.
It started two weeks ago with a serenade by spring peepers in a pond at Horton Grove Nature Preserve. It was reinforced a day later by the sudden appearance of perky yellow daffodils near an old homestead along the Eno River. Then, last Friday, on a hike through bottomland forest at Ayr Mount in Hillsborough, I got the sign I’d been waiting for: a trout lily unfurling its delicate yellow and maroon petals.
OK, today’s nudge for spring is more of a tease: today, it’s in the 70s and sunny, tomorrow it will barely top 40 and it looks like rain. Sunday, though, the sun returns, the high temp reaches into the more seasonal upper 50s. So let yourself be inspired to go out Sunday in search of your first trout lily and be serenaded by spring peepers. We found them today at Ayr Mount, on the Poet’s Walk, Hillsborough, and at the recently opened Brumley Forest North in Chapel Hill.
They’re the best trails you may not have heard of, those hikes that somehow fly under the radar.
You know the ones: You’re exchanging notes on favorite hikes with a friend and they say, “And, of course, there’s the Birkhead Wilderness.”