This weekend we enter the age of outdoor empowerment. It’s either that, or continuing to stay on your couch and watch movies that once may have been classic but now … . Suffice it to say that tastes change.
You need to empower yourself because if you’ve been relying on programs organized by others — guided hikes, nature programs, camping trips — to get out, those programs are all but suspended (more on the “all but” in a moment). So today, instead of providing a rundown of such events, we provide you with some resources to help you plan your own adventures this weekend;
Finding a trail. You’ve gone to Grandma’s house a hundred times, but someone else always drives: you don’t pay attention along the way and have no idea where Granny actually lives. Same with group hikes: You plug the trailhead into your GPS device, arrive, then blindly follow the hike leader. What you need is a curated guide to hiking in your area. A guide that may not include every hike, but does include the ones especially worthy of your time. We’ve compiled such a guide, of more than 100 hikes, for our friends at Great Outdoor Provision Co. It’s divided by geographic region, making it easier to find a hike near you. Find the guide here.
Becoming a hiker. You look around, everything’s closed — except trails. You’ve never been a hiker, but suddenly it seems like a great idea. Over the past decade, we’ve helped a whole lot of people take their first step down the trail. That experience, of learning what new hikers need, helped us to create our fifth book, the just-released “Let’s GetHiking! A Quick and Comprehensive Guide for the Aspiring Hiker.” Learn more and order a copy here.
Finding more advanced trails. We’re working on a guide to some of our favorite hiking venues — places with multiple trail options and base camp opportunities. We hope to have it available the middle of next week. Until then, some options:
- HikingUpward.com. Covers North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. Includes a map, overview and mileages.
- HikingProject.com. REI’s crowd-sourced site includes trail maps, an overview and reviews.
- AllTrails,com. The free version includes a map, trail description, elevation profile and reviews; pony up for the pay version and you get such extras ad gps tracks and maps downloaded able to your phone with gps tracking.
Confirming trails are open. As of this post, the morning of Friday, March 20, trails are open. But that could change. Before heading out, check ahead to make sure your trail of interest is open. Some sources to turn to find out the status of your favorite hiking destinations:
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- North Carolina State Parks (Croatan, Uwharrie, Pisgah, Nantahala)
- Shenandoah National Park
- Virginia National Forests (George Washington and Jefferson)
- Virginia State Parks
Small Batch Hiking
We mentioned above that guided hikes have “all but” been canceled. Our GetHiking! program is experimenting with Small Batch Hiking, or 10-10s: 10 hikers max hiking no closer than 10 feet apart. We held our first Small Batch Hike Thursday at Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area (see the video) and our hikers did an awesome job of keeping their distance and complying. And we still had a great time. Our next Small Batch Hike is Saturday morning. That hike is currently full, but as long as our hikers comply with the 10-10 rule, we will continue to hike.
Keep an eye out for more GetHiking! Small Batch Hikes here.