We begin our thoughts on weekend adventure with an adventure three weeks out that you can start training for this weekend.
Raleigh/Umstead CureSearch Hike, Saturday, June 1, Umstead State Park, Raleigh. I started leading hikes in 2011 after being contacted by an endeavor called the Ultimate Hike, a new fundraiser benefitting a group out to end childhood cancer. The deal was this: lead at least six training hikes in preparation for a 28.3-mile hike (in one day) on the Foothills Trail straddling the North Carolina/South Carolina line. I’d been telling people where to hike through books and newspaper columns for 15 years, why not actually take them, I thought. So I did. read more
A cool front moves in this weekend, a sign for you to get out and explore. Some thoughts on that front:
=&0=&, Friday thru Sunday, anywhere along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Help our favorite statewide hiking trail celebrate 41 years with a hike! Where? Well, anywhere on the trail. To help with that, we refer you to the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail website, here.
=&1=&, Saturday & Sunday, Moratock Park, Danbury. How about a hike at nearby Hanging Rock and some live music? Or a paddle on the Dan River and some crafts? We’re all about mixing action with relaxation, which is what this weekend’s Stokes Stomp in Danbury is all about. Details here.
=&2=&, Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Elk Knob State Park, Todd. More mixing of pleasure with pleasure at this annual celebration of Elk Knob. Live music, games, nature activities, hikes, wagon rides, craft and cultural demonstrations, hands-on activities, history and food. Details here.
You can find more opportunities this Labor Day weekend here:
North Carolina State Parks have a variety of adventures planned for the weekend. Check those options here.
North Carolina Environmental Education Centers has an extensive calendar of what’s happening at its affiliates; check it out here.
You can also find more adventures right here, at GetGoingNC.com.
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
Several hikes are on tap this weekend with Hike NC, the BlueCross Blue Shield of North Carolina hiking program. Check out those mostly beginner-oriented hikes at gohikenc.com.
Our GetHiking!program also has several hikes planned, including a return to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake on Saturday and a hike at Doughton Park Sunday. Learn more about those adventures and sign up here.
Intrigued by our adventures last weekend on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail? Plan your MST adventure starting here.
You can also find more adventures right here, at GetGoingNC.com.
As we watched the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in a Day tally map go from red to green, as we read the comments from hikers sharing their experiences on Facebook and Instagram, and as we shared the day on the trail with more than 50 other hikers, a thought occurred:
How awesome to have more than 1,700 hikers on the MST in just one day! How even more awesome to keep those 1,700 — and more — hiking the trail.
MST in a Day was an effort three years in the making to get boots on all 1,175 miles of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. To have at least one person hike down from Clingmans Dome on the western end of the trail, to have at least one person climb the highest dune at Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the eastern end. To have hikers on all the trail in between.
A remarkable task — so remarkable that the American Hiking Society doesn’t think it’s been done before on any of the nation’s other long trails. Keeping those hikers from Saturday — and more hikers and hikers-to-be — hiking into fall and winter is worthy as well.
We’re going to do our part to make that happen. For the remainder of the year, our GetHiking! program is going to keep the momentum going by offering one hike a week somewhere on the MST, starting this Saturday in Hillsborough.
Because of Ennis Baker.
Upon completing his 3.3-mile hike on Saturday, Ennis wrote to the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail: “I have worked in Hillsborough for 18 years and did not know that the Riverwalk trail connected to the Nature Preserve and the speedway.” Ennis was referring to the MST’s piggybacking on the Riverwalk through downtown Hillsborough, which connects with the 1-mile oval walking path at the Historic Occoneechee Speedway, then continues on a delightful one-mile run through the James M. Johnston Nature Preserve, all along the Eno River. “We’ll be back!” he promised.
And we’ll be there to help make that happen.
This Saturday’s hike will be 5.5 miles, with a 3.75-mile option. Many of our hikes will be similarly appealing to beginning hikers. Some will embrace the long-distance nature of the MST, with mileages topping double digits. All will help expose you further to the trail many of you were introduced to this past Saturday.