Consider the coming weekend as preparation for the winter ahead: high temperatures throughout much of the region won’t get out of the 40s. That makes it an opportune time to dig out your cold weather gear, see what works, see what needs replacing. Make good use of this test-run weekend and you’ll be ready for the winter months ahead!
It’s been cool most of the week throughout our blogging area, and it will be cool again at least on Saturday, making this the perfect summer weekend to get in a hike.
Mount Jefferson Downhill Skateboarding Event, Saturday and Sunday, starts at 9 a.m. both days, Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson. Scratching your head, are you? Here’s the deal: The 1.6-mile road to the summit of 4,683-foot Mount Jefferson will be closed to vehicles both days to accommodate the mountain’s annual downhill skateboard race. Yup, youngsters on skateboards — more than 100 of ‘em — will skateboard down the mountain, dropping more than 700 vertical feet along the way. However, there will be shuttle service to the top of the mountain: park at the Lowe’s in West Jefferson and take a shuttle to the top, where you can hike the park’s 5 miles of trail. And you can check out the race as well. (FYI, one of the sponsors for the race, the Ian Tilmann Foundation, will be giving helmets to the first 100 kids who sign a pledge to wear a helmet while skateboarding.) Learn more about the race here and hiking at Mount Jefferson here.
This weekend appears to be a carbon copy (here’s a history lesson, kids) of last weekend: lots of rain during the week, lots of sun on Saturday — and this weekend, Sunday, too. That being the case, some thoughts on how to spend a sunny first weekend of 2019:
- ERA Sunday Hike Series: West Point on the Eno city park, Sunday, 2 p.m., Durham. The Eno River Association kicks off its popular Sunday afternoon Winter Hike series with a 4.5-mile hike up the Eno from West Point on the Eno to Guess Road and back. One of the flatter hikes around, with open views of the Eno and a visit to the rock-bound pool called Sennett Hole. More info and sign up here.
- Good Night Monadnuck, Sunday, 4:30 p.m., Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough. One of our favorite hikes is to ascent mighty Occoneechee, the highest point in the Triangle at 867 feet, and catch the sun setting over Efland at dusk. More info here.
- GetHiking! Winter Wild: Off Trail at Umstead, Saturday, 10 a.m., Umstead State Park, Raleigh. We launched our Winter Wild program last week in the Eno Wilderness (check out the video) and are extremely excited about it. We take you to the places you thought you knew, and show you things you haven’t seen before on a hike that’s mostly off trail. Saturday’s hike will be about 8 miles. Learn more and sign up here.
- GetHiking! Winter Program for Beginning Hikers, Sunday, noon, Eno River State Park, Durham. Another new program that we’re excited about. If you’ve vowed to give hiking a go in 2019, this is the place to start. Sunday’s hike will be a mellow mile-and-a-half introduction; over the course of the next 8 weeks we’l build up to 4 miles, on trails around the Triangle. Learn more and sign up here.
As always, you can find more opportunities this weekend here:
=&4=& have a variety of adventures planned for the weekend. Check those options here.
=&5=& has an extensive calendar of what’s happening at its affiliates; check it out here.
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The pressure is on! Only one more weekend to get out before Christmas!
Our intent isn’t to add to the pressure of the holidays. Rather, to distract from it, with one of these options for getting out on a weekend that promises to be perfect for adventure, with temperatures in the 50s and hardly a cloud in the sky. Under such glorious conditions you could …
=&0=& (Boulders Access), Saturday, 9 a.m, Crowders Mountain State Park, Kings Mountains. Hike leader David Brantley hosts Hike Your Own Hike Day: you could hike 12 miles, you could hike 10; you could hike 8, you could hike 6. That’s the beauty of the Ridgeline Trail, connecting the Boulders Access with the Kings Pinnancle. A great way to avoid the crowds at Crowders’ main entrance. Learn more and sign up here.
=&1=&, Saturday, 2 p.m., Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury. Maybe you love the idea of hiking at Hanging Rock, but are intimidated by the distances, the rocky train, the elevation changes. On Saturday’s Lake Hike, there’s none of that. The hike is a mile long, it goes around the park’s 12-acre lake, and it’s pretty tame. You’ll learn a thing or two about the park as well on this ranger-lead hike. Learn more and sign up here.
=&2=& Sunday, 10 a.m., Eno River State Park: Pump Station Access, Durham. It’s the camaraderie of a group hike minus the chatter. Learn more and sign up here.
As always, you can find more opportunities this weekend here:
Last weekend, we explored the longest uninterrupted stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake in Raleigh: the 7 miles from NC 98 to Creedmoor Road. We were struck by how, seemingly overnight, the woods had gone from a hint of green to full-blown leaf-out. We caught glimpses of the lake; mostly, though, we were enveloped in green.
That was Saturday. Sunday, we hiked a little farther west on the MST, along the Eno River from the Pump Station Access to Pleasant Green, about 5.5 miles. While the Eno coursing through its rocky valley wasn’t quite as shy as Falls Lake a day earlier, it was likewise subdued, swallowed in green.
Prevalent in that green, fyi, was poison ivy: you can ID the culprit in the photo to the right. Steer clear: this ivy is irritating and itchy. On to this weekend.
Every Friday, we give you a glimpse into our weekend past to give you a nudge to get out and explore the weekend future (this one). Our suggestions:
Saturday, May 5, 8 a.m. Confluence Natural Area Grand Opening, Cedar Grove in Orange County. For a half century, the Eno River Association has been saving land along its namesake river (and tributaries). Most of that land has become Eno River State Park. Saturday, the association opens the 200-acre Confluence Natural Area where the east and west forks of the Eno converge. Festivities begin with a Pre-Celebration Bird Hike at 8 a.m., followed by guided hikes at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Live music and food as well. Learn more and sign up here.
Saturday, May 5, 9 a.m. Vade Mecum Trails at Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury (north of the Triad). The first weekend of every month, Hanging Rock and the Friends of Sauartown Mountains open the trail network at the park’s Vade Mecum addition. The 716-acre former Camp Sertoma 4-H Educational Center, with miles of trail, was added to the park in 2014. Learn more and sign up here.
Sunday, May 6, 9 a.m. Lake Norman State Park, Troutman (north of Charlotte). I Can Canoe, and So Can You. Paddling a canoe is one of those things that isn’t complicated, but can be a little intimidating the first time: the boat’s tippy, you aren’t sure which way to face, how does the paddle work? So many questions. And so many answers in this 1-hour ranger-led clinic. No experience necessary, all equipment provided. Learn more and sign up here.
But wait, there’s more