The passage of Labor Day means the crowds are starting to thin from the coast, making it safe to go back in the water. Meanwhile, while the calendar may say fall is officially a couple weeks off, Labor Day signals, to us, the start of the fall hiking season. We’ve got great options for the latter in both the Piedmont and mountains.
This weekend, enjoy a feast of North Carolina adventure, with a guided paddle at the coast (in a salt marsh at Hammocks Beach State Park), a wildflower-themed hike in the Piedmont (at the Triangle Land Conservancy’s Horton Grove Nature Preserve), or all things mountain at one of the first mountain festivals of the season (at Elks Knob State Park).
There’s something almost mystical about exploring northern Durham County. Perhaps it has something to do with the “forbidden fruit” thing.
There’s not a whole lot of public land in this northernmost reach of the Triangle. Until 2004, the lone option was the 2,450-acre Hill Demonstration Forest operated by N.C. State University. While yes, technically, it is public, the mention of recreational permits to visit always put something of a damper on a spontaneous drop-in. Then, in 2004, the 391-acre Little River Regional Park opened. With 7 miles of hiking and 7 miles of separate mountain biking trail, it was a welcome addition to the Triangle’s outdoor scene. Yet it was essentially the lone northern Durham option.
Statewide, and especially at the coast, there’s a good workout to be had as part of NC Big Sweep. Meanwhile, a new trail opens in the Piedmont and on Saturday you needn’t be a 737 to fly down the runway at Asheville Regional Airport.
As we discovered this past weekend in the yard, there is perhaps no greater workout than trying to tidy up the outside world. Which is why if you’re looking for a heckuva workout this weekend, you need look no further than your local NC Big Sweep event. Yes, it’s that time, the first Saturday of October, when volunteers in all 100 North Carolina counties will gather to clean up their local waterways. While the events are held statewide, they seem to be especially popular along the coast. In Brunswick County alone, cleanups are scheduled in a dozen locations. To find out what’s going on near you, see Logistics, below.
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 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: Winter Water.
One thing I’ll miss about being in the woods in winter as the season starts packing to leave: Winter water. While the rest of the forest throttles down — the trees stop photosynthesizing and drop their leaves, critters spend more time in their dens, birds head elsewhere — for creeks, streams, rivers its business as usual. Even more so during the typically wetter winter months here in the Piedmont. And what great companions these waterways prove to be in the otherwise quiet forest, carrying on a constant chatter.