North Carolina’s brilliant fall weather means all kinds of events and programs will be competing for your attention. This weekend, for instance, you can paddle a swamp, run 5 miles on a greenway that doesn’t yet exist or take a really, really (really) long ride in the mountains.
Last week, we published a list of municipalities in North Carolina that we knew had greenways. Turns out there was a lot we didn’t know.
Since we published that list we’ve heard from an additional 14 municipalities with greenways, from Whiteville’s four greenways totaling a mile in length to Rocky Mount’s 7-mile system to Pinehurst’s 11-mile. Not only we’re we pleasantly surprised that so many municipalities in North Carolina have greenways, but that so many have plans to expand. And not just the Raleigh’s, the Cary’s and the Charlotte’s. Havelock, for instance, will soon add more than 4 miles to its 1-mile system, Albemarle is working on a 3-mile rails-to-trails greenway that will connect its Rock Creek Park and Montgomery Park to downtown, and Sanford, currently with 2 miles, intends to build a 20-mile greenway that will run out to and along the Deep River.
It’s one of those weekends in North Carolina where you wish you could triplicate yourself … .
When anyone asks me for a good beginner canoe trip with great scenery, I never hesitate with the answer: Merchants Millpond State Park. For starters, it’s one of the few places in the state where you can rent a canoe year-round. Then, it’s only $5 an hour (that’s for the first hour; it drops to $3 an hour for the second and subsequent hours). But the main reason to paddle Merchants Millpond is the scenery. Paddling here is on a 190-year-old, 760-acre millpond peppered with bald cypress and tupelo gum trees draped in Spanish moss. The pond’s dark, acidic waters support floating mats of duckweed and water fern. It’s the quintessential swamp paddle minus the alligators (it’s been years since one has been seen).
Sometimes all you need is a little extra incentive to get you out the door and into the wild.
Those are some of the incentives we’re offering as part of the Backpacking North Carolina Challenge 2011, which kicks off this evening at 7:30 at the Great Outdoor Provision Co. store in Raleigh’s Cameron Village.
When the East Coast Greenway Alliance announced in February it was moving its headquarters from Rhode Island to the Triangle, the move was a good sign for the state — and a sign that we need help.
The Alliance is the driving force behind the East Coast Greenway, an in-the-works greenway that will one day run continuously from Key West, Fla., to Canada, a distance of nearly 3,000 miles. It bills itself as the urban alternative to the Appalachian Trail, offering a pedestrian-width ribbon of pavement instead natural surface and traveling through as many municipalities as possible, rather than avoiding them. More than 25 percent of the trail now exists. Problem is, the vast majority of the completed path lies well to the north.