As we reported earlier this week, you’ll have more hiking options this weekend as a result of Gov. Roy Cooper’s easing of the coronavirus-influenced stay-at-home order. Initially, it sounded like all trails in North Carolina’s 41 state parks would reopen. Turns out that’s not quite the case.
- Eno River State Park, only trails originating from the Fews Ford and Cole Mill access areas will be open (Pleasant Green and Cabelands remain closed, probably to keep crowds from the quarry, pictured above).
- Crowders Mountain State Park, only “some trails” from the Sparrow Springs access will open.
- Pilot Mountain State Park, the summit parking area remains closed; all hiking must be done from satellite parking areas.
At other State Parks — Umstead, Hanging Rock and Raven Rock — all trails will reopen.
Hours are altered at some parks as well, and some parks are marked as having “limited capacity,” though it’s unclear what that means. Before heading out, check out this park-by-park rundown of what’s open and what’s not.
A thought about heading out this weekend. The weather forecast is ideal for much of the region, with temperatures in the low- to mid-60s and sunny skies. That means the number of hikers flooding the state’s newly reopened trails could spike. On the other hand, that likely will siphon off hikers who have been flooding your local favorite trails, the ones no one else was supposed to know about. We recommend letting the excitement of this weekend’s reopening pass before paying those trails a visit, and sticking, for at least one more weekend, with those local favorites.
Regardless of where you head, though, some advice on how to minimize contact with your fellow hikers:
- Hike early. Most N.C. State Parks open at 8 a.m. — a good time to go, especially this weekend with near-perfect weather. It’ll be chilly early — 34 on Saturday in the Triangle! — which should keep the numbers down at the trailhead. Sunday morning is also a good time to be out.
- Hike late. It’s May, so most State Parks are open until 9 (though, again, some parks are altering their hours)! Take advantage of these later hours to get out. Remember to take a headlamp or flashlight.
- Avoid the main trailheads. Find the more remote trail access points to where you’re headed. In particular, look for trailheads that don’t have paved parking, are on gravel roads, don’t begin from a visitor center, don’t have restrooms. Study the map; you can find them.
- Avoid the main trails. Start from a more remote trailhead and you’ll be on a trail that likely doesn’t get much foot traffic — initially, at least. A lot of these trails will hook up with more popular trails eventually.
- Avoid parks near urban areas. Twelve state parks kept their trails open while the other 29 had to close. Why? Because they were in more remote locals. At least for this weekend, you might want to focus on trails in those more remote parks, which you can find here.
Have a great weekend!