Last week was a bit of a disaster on the trails of North Carolina. An ironic perfect storm of great weather and minimal entertainment options in these stay-at-home (soon-to-be safer-at-home) times meant hordes of hikers inhabiting our trails, especially those in our state parks. As we reported Wednesday, Pilot Mountain, Hanging Rock, Eno River, Stone Mountain and Raven Rock all had to close their gates Saturday morning because they had reached capacity. Hanging Rock reported 1,000 more visitors than it had ever recorded.
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.
After a dang cold week we’re heading into a darn nice weekend, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures, brace yourself, reaching 60.
So if you’ve been hibernating so far this winter, now’s your chance to emerge from your den for an adventure. An adventure such as:
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:
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