Tag Archives: Occoneechee Mountain

GetOut! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

Don’t let the weather rain on your weekend adventure parade. Grab a rain jacket (or a big trash bag) and venture out for some good, wet, fun! Such as:

Occoneechee Geology Hike, Saturday, 2 p.m., Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough. One of the reasons we like this hike for this weekend is that the trail is generally high up and less susceptible to standing water (except for portions along the Eno River, which will be under water). Quarrying operations from years ago leave the north face of the mountain exposed, making it ideal for a geological dissection. Also: the hike is lead by a geologist. About 1.5 miles of moderately difficult hiking. Free, but registration required, by calling 919.383.1686. More info here. read more

GetOut! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

It’s November, and Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend (Sunday at 2 a.m.). Make the most of the last day of extended afternoon sunlight by taking in:

=&0=&, Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap, Saturday, 6:30 p.m. A park ranger plays the role of Dick Clark rocking in Standard Time with this countdown to the stars — literally, with the aid of the Forsyth Astronomy Club. More info here.

=&1=&, Crowders Mountain State Park, Kings Mountain, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Educational events, food trucks, live music — and, presumably, fur, fangs and feathers — to help mark the passage of another fabulous season of DST. More info here.

=&2=&, Occoneechee Mountain State Park, Hillsborough, Saturday, 10:30 a.m. What’s a “monadnuck”? Find out as you get the opportunity to walk around one at mighty Occoneechee, at 867 feet the tallest mountain from Hillsborough to the coast. More info here.

You can find more opportunities this 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.
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    Hiking out my backdoor

    Fuel up before hitting the trail?

    For a long time, I’ve wanted a place with trail out my backdoor. Saturday, I discovered I’m as close to that goal as I’ve ever been: I just need to walk past a Circle K, a McDonald’s and a Holiday Inn Express; commit minor trespassing (possibly); walk briefly along a busy, shoulder-less two-lane road (and under a major interstate). Fifteen minutes and I’m there.

    In my fantasy, my backdoor trail supported a good day hike — maybe 10 miles of trail, or so. In reality, my trail is the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and it goes nearly 1,200 miles, or someday will, west to Clingman’s Dome on the Tennessee line, east to Jockey’s Ridge, where North Carolina cedes to the Atlantic. I was tipped off to the connection shortly after we relocated to Hillsborough in September. I mentioned the proximity of Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area to our leasing agent, speculating it was maybe a 10-minute drive. “Oh,” she said, “I think one of our maintenance guys found a trail leading most of the way there.” After two scouting sessions, I discovered that indeed foot passage was possible — provided you didn’t mind that first 15 minutes.

    Saturday morning I rose early to see what kind of hike I could put together out the backdoor, past the Circle K, over Occoneechee Mountain, through Hillsborough along the Eno River, around the Historic Occoneechee Speedway, and back. An 11-mile hike, it turned out, memorable in its own right. But made even more so by the fact I didn’t touch the car.

    Here’s what a carless hike looks like … .

    Trails for walkin’ in the rain

    Hiking along the Eno
    Hiking along the Eno

    To the glass-half-empty crowd, this weekend’s forecast of rain followed by more rain topped by a dash of drizzle (and more rain) may seem discouraging. But if you don’t mind seeing that half-full glass fill further, the wet weekend offers opportunity. You just need to know how to dress for it and where to best enjoy a walk in the wet woods.

    We’ve come up with five of our favorite rainy day romps. We tell you why these trails are better when wet, then refer you to the online hiking guide we compiled for our friends at Great Outdoor Provision Co. for specifics on making each hike happen.

    Grab your slicker and embrace the weekend.

    1. Sycamore Trail
    Umstead State Park, Raleigh
    7.2 miles
    Our favorite hike in the rain, period. In a mild rain, normally nondescript Sycamore Creek turns into a feisty mountain stream. The rock gardens that in drier times collect languid pools convert Sycamore Creek into a whitewater rollick that makes you want to grab the nearest playboat and dive in. Head to the main trailhead off the far parking lot for the entire 7.2 miles, or, get right to the frothy fun by starting from the Bike & Bridle trailhead, for a 4-mile adventure.
    More info and directions here.

    2. Stone Mountain Loop Trail
    Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap
    4.5 miles
    This popular loop is typically appreciated for its great views — views that will be obscured in this weekend’s forecast conditions. Rather, what you’ll get are low clouds dancing above the meadow that’s home to the Hutchinson Homestead, passage along the especially exuberant Stone Mountain Falls (on a wood staircase) and the occasional peeks across the valley to Wolf Rock when you top out on STMO. Another big plus: you’ll miss the crowds that typically flood the trail this time of year.
    More info and directions here.

    3. Occoneechee Mountain Loop
    Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough
    3 miles
    You like hiking in the mountains in the rain? Then you’ll like hiking at Occoneechee Mountain, where the trail passes through five distinct eco zones, at least two of which transport you to much higher climes. Hiked clockwise, the trail begins with a steep climb (Occoneechee tops out at 867 feet, the highest spot in the Triangle), then deposits you along the Eno. There, a 30-foot cliff provides a cool environment where rhododendron, mountain laurel, galax and other flora of the Southern Appalachians flourish.
    More info and directions here.

    4. Ridgeline Trail
    Crowders Mountain State Park, Kings Mountain (Charlotte area)
    12 miles
    If you’re properly geared up for the elements, there’s no better opportunity for some through head-clearing than a hike in the rain — a long hike in the rain. The Ridgeline Trail links Crowders Mountain in North Carolina with Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina. The North Carolina stretch is particularly contemplative, a rolling stretch with no grueling climbs, leaving enough oxygen to fuel the thought process. Not up for a shuttle? Walking in the rain is ideal for an out-and-back hike.
    More info and directions here.

    5. Price Lake
    Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 297
    2.7 miles
    The clouds are never content to settle over Price Lake. Constantly on the move, they shroud the lake in silence one minute, part briefly the next to reveal a glance at Grandfather Mountain. Rhododendron rim the lake, offering a degree of protection from the rain and glowing a brilliant dark green when coated in wet. The trail is accessible (the trailhead is along the parkway) and the distance makes it doable for even occasional hikers.
    More info and directions here.

    This weekend: Spike, hike, bike

    Photo courtesy SirBikesALot.com

    Did you know this is about the time in the new year when people begin to lose their resolve to be healthier and more active? If you feel you may be at risk, check out our statewide prescription for a prolonged active lifestyle. We have something for the team player (volleyball at the coast), the nature lover (a geology hike in the Piedmont) and — what’s a nice way to put this — the nutcase, in the form of a night downhill mountain bike race in the mountains.

    Stay active, my friends.


    Someday, I’m going to get three friends and head to the coast for the periodic 4 x 4 Coed Indoor Volleyball Tournaments held by the Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation Department. You must pre-register, which discourages the unpracticed, and the $55 team fee is fair but, again, makes you take the tourney a bit more seriously. And, there’s the prospect of prize money — 70 percent of the take goes to first place, the remaining 30 percent to second place — which could cover gas and a stop on the way home at Smithfield’s Chicken and Bar-B-Q! It’s BYOB (Bring Your Own Ball).

    Logistics: Pre-register by calling Emerald Isle Parks & Recreation at 252.354.6350 by 5 p.m. Friday. Six team limit. More info at the aforementioned number or via smcnally@emeraldisle-nc.org. Games start at 8 a.m.

    Saturday forecast: The tourney is indoor, but if you lose in the first round bring outdoor play clothes: the weatherman is calling for partly sunny skies and a high of 50.


    Brisk weather for hiking is in the forecast for this weekend in the Piedmont; if you’re a fan of  medium brisk, then you might want to plan on hiking Saturday, when the temperatures will be a skosh warmer. It just so happens there’s a mountains-in-the-Piedmont hike Saturday, at Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area in Hillsborough. This popular hike explores this pyrophyllite quarry with insights offered by a bonafide geologist. Plus, Occoneechee, the highest point in Orange County, is especially good in cold weather. Don’t ask why, just is.

    Logistics: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2 p.m., Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough.  Free, but pre-registration required, by calling 919.383.1686. More about Occoneechee Mountain here.

    Saturday forecast: High of 43, clear with clouds moving in as the day progresses.


    Don’t you love an event where the name says it all? Like Saturday’s Icycle Mountain Bike Event out of Fontana Village? The Icycle consists of a cross-country race — several actually, in various categories and skill levels. All on a 7-mile course that “consists of varied terrain with rocks, roots, creeks, & wide open passing lanes offering some of the finest western North Carolina singletrack.” There’s also the Icycle Night Downhill, described as “not for the faint at heart.” A minimum 10 watt/150 lumen light is required for this one.

    Logistics: Entry fee starts at $30 and registration closes at the very end of today (Thursday, Jan. 24). Register here. More info by calling 800.849.2258, or going here.

    Saturday forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 45.

    * * *
    Those are GGNC’s thoughts for an active weekend. Find out other ways you can get out this weekend by browsing our super calendar, a collection of events calendars from throughout the state, below.



    Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

    Coastal Guide
    Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

    Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
    Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

    Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

    North Carolina Coast Host
    Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

    This Week Magazine
    Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).


    Asheville Citizen-Times read more