GetOut! Spring weather, with the green of summer

On today’s Morning Walk with Joe on Facebook Live we marveled at the unique confluence facing us this weekend: cool temperatures (in the 60s and 70s) and sunny skies, and a fully leafed-out forest. 

Typically, when we think of a leafed-out forest in the Southeast we also think of hot temperatures and muggy air. Walking through the Seven Mile Creek Nature Preserve this morning I was struck by the full onslaught of green and the fact that, with the temperature around 60, I needed long sleeves. Spring hiking weather with the visual benefits of summer. It’s the best, and that’s what this weekend is about: the chance to take a summerlike hike in spring.

Here are 5 hikes we like where the hardwoods will be in full leaf this weekend, but where you won’t build a full sweat to enjoy them. We provide a link to both our guide for the hike and the official website.

Confluence Natural Area

Confluence Natural Area

2.23 miles of trail

Eno River Association

Especially along the East Branch of the Eno River it’s a full-on jungle during full leaf season. On a summer’s day the air is still, the lush woods close. Your tendency is to rush this area and get to the more open West Branch, which is too bad because the flora here is so diverse, because there’s so much to see. When it’s cool out you’re much more likely to pause and appreciate. 

Find our guide here

Fews Ford 7-Miler

The Eno River

Eno River State Park, Durham

7-mile loop involving the Buckquarter Creek, Ridge, Shakori, Fieldstone and Holden Mill trails

So many stretches where a mature forest can be appreciated on this hike, but our favorite is along the most remote run, along the Shakori Trail. The trail spends much of its time in bottomland forest where a variety of hardwoods stand high. The upper reaches of the Ridge Trail head through rich hardwoods as well.

Find our guide here 

Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Day-Hike Section T


4.1 miles (one way)

The start of MST Day-Hike Section T

From the eastern trailhead off Red Mill Road you’re in sheltering forest from the start. But  bottomland woods a little more than a mile in offer the most impressive show of tall trees and impenetrable canopy. This woods continue to dominate even as you climb out of the floodplain at mile 1.8, follow a bluff, then drop back down at trail’s end, near Old Oxford Road and Penny’s Bend. 

Find our guide here

Sycamore Trail (short loop)

Umstead State Park


4.4 miles

The main trailhead for Sycamore (overall distance: 7 miles) is at the end of the road leading into the park from Glenwood Avenue. But you can get to the heart of the trail — and avoid the crowds as well — by picking up the trail at the bike & bridle trailhead. The heart of the trail: the mile-andf-a-half stretch along Sycamore Creek, which winds its way through floodplain forest. 

Find our guide here.

Knight Brown Nature Preserve

Piedmont Land Conservancy


3.1 miles of trail

This 189-acre preserve north of Greensboro (pictured at top) is enveloped  by ridges protecting Belews Creek on its peaceful tumble through mature hardwoods, including some especially impressive beech trees. So expansive is the canopy here that it protects the world below like a massive green dome. An especially good Wow! factor: if you’ve got people on the fence about hiking, this preserve will have them hopping down on the side of taking a long ramble.

Find our guide here

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GetHiking! Southeast Podcast

Prefer listening to your trail news? We’ve got you covered, with the GetHiking! Southeast Podcast, a new episode of which appears every Tuesday morning. This week’s topic: Campfire Conversations. Check it out here.

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