Every year at this time, we get a gift: an extra hour of after-work daylight.
This time next week, after Daylight Saving Time kicks in on Sunday, the sun will set at 7:21 p.m. By month’s end, it will set at 7:36 p.m. That extra afternoon sunshine, friends, opens our evening outdoor opportunities.
So, if you plan ahead (more about this below), you could leave work at 5 p.m. and have two hours of sun to play with. Depending upon your pace, that could be a 5- to 7-mile hike — a delightful midweek adventure!
This celebration of after-work opportunity is boosted by our public playgrounds. Starting in March, most of North Carolina’s state parks are open until 8 p.m. Some are staying open even later: Eno River State Park in Durham, Hanging Rock State Park north of the Triad, and Carolina Beach State Park near Wilmington are all now open until 9 p.m. Most county and municipal parks continue to observe dawn to dusk hours, as do most greenways.
The key to taking advantage of this added afternoon daylight is planning.
- Have your gear ready. When the 5 o’clock whistle blows, switch into your adventure gear. You can keep your gear simple: hiking shoes/boots, pants, wicking shirt, water.
- Pick a spot to explore. Make it close by: the less time you spend in transit, the more time you’ll have to explore. And it might help you find some great venues you weren’t aware of. Try this: Go to Google maps, drop a pin on your location, then go out a mile or two. Blow up the image and look for blotches of green. You’ll likely find pocket parks you might not have known about, parks that likely have some sort of trail. Also look for dotted blue lines signifying trails.
- Don’t worry about repeating yourself. Say you find a spot nearby that has nice, if short, trail. Run with it, again and again. One of the great things about spring is that it unfolds so quickly you’ll likely find something new — a just-emerged spring wildflower, a tree in bloom — on it every day.
- Consider it training. If you’re gearing up to do some serious mountain hikes this summer, now is the time to start getting your hiking legs back. Two miles every evening through March is a great start.
- Do it! Most importantly, don’t dawdle — take advantage of this extra daylight immediately. Start Monday. In fact, if you’re in the Triangle area, you can start with us. We’ll be hiking the Cox Mountain Trail at Eno River State Park Monday at 6 p.m. See below for details and to sign up.
Make the most of this gift of sunlight.
To find out more about our Daylight Saving Hike at Eno River State Park and to sign up, go here.