Category Archives: Hiking

Fall color: Going, going …

Last weekend’s fall color was pretty spectacular in the Piedmont. And practically over in a flash.

I was fortunate enough to spend the day hiking in Greensboro: along the Watershed Lakes, at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, at Hagen Stone Park. Twenty miles of spectacular color under mostly sunny, cool skies. Yet driving home to Cary, I could already see the color retreating from the roadside woods. read more

This weekend: Play with the sun

View from the Ivy Gut Trail at Goose Creek State Park.

The statewide forecast for the weekend: Sunny with highs in the low 60s, which makes this an ideal weekend for just about every outdoor adventure. We offer three options especially well-suited to the forecast.


Right now is about the time it’s comfortable — and sane — to start venturing into a coastal forest. (Between April and November, exploring coastal forests is tantamount to offering room service to any bug that sucks blood for a livelihood.) That makes it the ideal time for “The Forest of Goose Creek: Past, Present and Future” at Goose Creek State Park near Washington (North Carolina’s Washington, the pleasant one). A ranger leads you on a hike of the Ivy Gut Trail and fills you in on the natural and cultural history of this park, located along the mighty Pamlico River just before it becomes the mighty Pamlico Sound. read more

Why don’t you hike with poles?

Poles help push you up hills.

My favorite correspondent reported in from Colorado that she’d been hiking an area known as the hogback, a geologic formation that constitutes a precursor to the foothills of the Front Range. Having once lived near the hogback, she knew that in itself would interest me. Then she sweetened the pot.
“A lot of the hikers were using hiking poles,” she said. And no, she confirmed, they weren’t all older hikers. “It was a mix.”
It struck us both ironic that in the fitest state in the nation hikers are quick to use the aid, while here in one of the least fit states we continue to wobble along poleless. One thing those Coloradans may know that we don’t: using poles makes for a better workout.
“Walking poles work your arms, shoulders, chest and upper back muscles through a functional range of motion as you walk — which can help you turn your daily walk into a full-body workout,” according to Dr. Edward R. Laskowski with the Mayo Clinic. “The arm movement associated with walking poles adds intensity to your aerobic workout, which helps you burn more calories.”
I lead a couple of hiking groups, including GetHiking! Triangle. Courtesy of Great Outdoor Provision Co., I keep six loaner hiking poles in my car trunk. Before every hike I announce their availability. On a recent outing with 43 hikers, four took me up on the offer, with two making comments to the effect of, “Guess this makes me old now.”
No, using doesn’t make you old. In fact, it keeps you from getting old, at least parts of you. Other advantages to poles, according to Dr. Laskowski: read more

90 Second Escape: The day the color peaked

Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video or slide show of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb.
Today’s 90-Second Escape: The day the color peaked.

Fall color peaked in Greensboro on Saturday and we were there. If you weren’t, here’s what it was like. read more

Piedmont foliage at its peak

The trail was engulfed in a a tunnel of color and in the course of two days I went from fearing that the fall foliage display had passed us by to believing this was the best fall color show ever.

Going into last weekend I was convinced that fall color in the Piedmont would be at its peak. The week before had seen sunny, dry days and overnight lows had dropped into the 30s: the perfect combo, say the folks who follow the lives and deaths of leafs, for great color. Yet on a long Sunday afternoon hike at Umstead State Park, there was precious little color to be oogled.
Wednesday morning, though, driving to RDU we finally did notice that change, in the hardwoods lining I-40. On a Thursday afternoon run on Umstead’s Company Mill Trail, the change was remarkable. Early this morning, on Umstead’s Loblolly Trail, I was suddenly embraced by the raspberry reds of the dogwoods, the lemony yellows of the hickories and the orangey oranges of the smattering of spectacular sugar maples. It was the Trix triple play of fall color. (Check out our short slideshow, shot this morning on the Loblolly and Old Reedy Creek trails.)
It’s finally happening, folks. Fall color is peaking in the Piedmont, and you best not wait to enjoy it.
According to the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development’s Piedmont Fall Foliage report, Haw River State Park and Falls Lake State Recreation Area are likewise reporting peak color. Officially, Umstead reports that, “The next two weekends should be excellent times to visit the park.” Based on what we saw, it’s hard to imagine this level of brilliance will stick around that long. If you love fall color and you live in the Piedmont, we suggest you not delay — get out this weekend.
For direction, we refer you to this rundown of 35 Piedmont hiking trails we produced in conjunction with our friends at Great Outdoor Provision Co.
Pick a trail. Get your camera. Have a colorful weekend. read more