The first time I went to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest—a 3,800-acre tract— I was awe of the concentration of old growth trees along the 2-mile trail takes you through one of the last remaining virgin cove forests in the Southeast. Here grow behemoth yellow poplar, oak, basswood, beech and sycamore, some believed to be more than 400 years old. Put in perspective, some might have been saplings when Hernando De Soto and the first Europeans passed through. The massive canopy limits the amount of plant life below—thought it does make room for an impressive spring wildflower display of cohosh, trillium, crested iris and more—giving the forest an ethereal feel.
It has 15 miles of trail, mountain biking, camping, cabins, birdwatching and paddling through swampy area where the course of the Neuse River is constantly changing. It’s a 2,800-acre outdoor adventure playground and it’s less than an hour’s drive from the Triangle.
Hiking is a gateway activity. You start with a hike along Umstead’s Sycamore Creek after a rain, maybe hike the Little Mountain Falls Trail at Virginia’s Fairy Stone State Park on a cloudless winter day. Before you know it, the notion of spending a day or more on the trail has a keen appeal. You’re hooked by the lure of outdoor escapes.
People sometimes shy away from hiking thinking it’s all work and no play. To those we have two words:
Holiday Hiker is both a series of hikes we’re doing in December and an overriding philosophy here at GetHiking!
Last week we told you about our Holiday Hiker series, so we won’t dwell. (But if you missed it, we’ve launched a series of short — 4 miles, give or take — hikes geared to keep you moving through the oft-stressful holiday season. Learn more about that series here.)
Don’t forget your eclipse-viewing safety glasses!
Based on dire warnings from N.C. Department of Transportation message boards statewide (“Plan Ahead”!), we’re guessing that pert near everyone is resting up this weekend for the day of gathering gloom on Monday. Thus, we focus on events focused on the Sun’s disappearance Monday afternoon around 2:30.