It’s looking like a pretty nice weekend to be out in the woods, with daytime highs into the low 60s both Saturday and Sunday. There’s a chance of rain Sunday; otherwise, a good-looking December weekend is on tap.
First, a couple of off-trail adventures, both intended to keep you off pandemic-popular trails.
Phil Finding Adventure, a month-long event at Umstead State Park in Raleigh. Phil is a Pheasant who has been hidden by Ranger Billy somewhere in the 5,600-acre park, “some interesting part of the park,” Ranger Billy assures, somewhere “off trail with roots, gullies, rocks and hills.” The goal here is to find Phil, take Phil’s picture, leave Phil where he lies, get back to your car. Thus, you will need a GPS device of some sort. Learn more about what Ranger Billy calls a “Philabulous Adventure” here.
GetHiking! Winter Wild Adventure to the Three Sisters of Hanging Rock, Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to around 2 p.m. We still have space available on this 10-person-tops hike that’s 100 percent off trail and takes in the far eastern extent of Hanging Rock State Park, where there are no trails. No GPS needed; we have one and know the way. Learn more and register to join us here.
Land Trust Adventures
Two dozen land trusts operate in North Carolina, sparing some of the state’s most special land from development. Some of this saved land is turned into preserves that are open to the public.
Today, we tout five areas that we wouldn’t be able to explore were it not for the work of three land trusts: the Eno River Association, Piedmont Land Conservancy and the Triangle Land Conservancy. The hikes:
- Horton Grove Nature Preserve, Triangle Land Conservancy, Bahama. With 8 miles of trail divvied up on 7 trails it’s possible to hike both short (a half mile) and long (around 10, with some necessary overlap) here.
- Knight Brown Nature Preserve, Piedmont Land Conservancy, Stokesdale. Dropping into the valley carved by Belews Creek that makes up much of this 189-acre preserve is like entering a different world, of giant beech, steep valley walls, mature forest.
- Confluence Natural Area, Eno River Association, Hillsborough. Confluence is new enough (2017) and remote enough that it’s yet to be discovered. Exposed meadows and intimate walks along the east and west branches of the Eno dominate this 2.25-mile network.
Brumley Family Nature Preserve (North), Triangle Land Conservancy, Chapel Hill. Varied landscapes and surprisingly flat terrain make this an especially good first hike for a beginner. 3.5 miles of trail combined on 5 trails.
- Eno River State Park, Fews Ford 7-Miler, Eno River Association, Durham. Eno River State Park might not exist were it not for the Eno River Association; this long hike is one of the few opportunities to escape gorgeous spring and fall weekend crowds along the Eno.
How to explore
To explore these preserves, either click on the link for additional information, or you can purchase our GetHiking! Guide to 5 of Our Favorite Land Trust Trails. In this package, you’ll find guides to each area, each including a map, detailed route description, pertinent logistical details (how to get there, for instance), a video tour and an essay describing the hiking experience. Plus, the $2.49 fee for guide will be given to the three land trusts so that they can continue their work of saving great places to explore.
Check out the GetHiking! Guide to 5 of Our Favorite Land Trust Trails and download a copy here.
We couldn’t make it much easier for you to explore this weekend!