Whooo, baby! We’re looking at our first 90-degree weekend of the year. And you had your heart set on taking a hike.
No need to cancel your plans. You just need to alter them a wee bit.
From our GetHiking! Guide to Summer Hiking, a bit of advice:
- Dress appropriately. Button-up fishing and hiking shirts typically have vents and mesh that do a good job of keeping your torso from building up head. Shorts are good, but there are also inexpensive lightweight nylon pants that protect your legs without keeping in the heat.
- Hydrate. Always important, especially in heat. Increase your desire to drink by packing cold water, either by filling a water bottle three-quarters full the night before, freezing it and topping it off with cold water before the hike, or by loading a bladder with ice, then filling in the nooks and crannies with cold water.
- Hike early. The coolest part of the day. This weekend, the temperatures shortly after sunrise should be in the low 60s.
- Hike late. Temperatures typically peak late afternoon, then drop as the sun does. By 6:30 p.m. you should be down 10 degrees from the day’s high, and you’ll benefit from a continually dropping thermostat.
- Choose a heat-resistant trail. How, you ask? Look for trails with:
- Higher elevations. The temperature drops roughly 3 degrees for every 1,000 feet of elevation.
- Near water. Trails along creeks or around lakes are especially good. If you start to overheat, kick off your boots and wade in.
- Look for a northern exposure. Trails that spend most of their time on a northern exposure, away from direct sunlight, tend to be cooler.
Not sure you want to do that much research? Worry not. We have some recommendations.
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough. At 867 feet, Occoneechee has elevation in its favor. It also has a protected, north-facing slope on the Mountain Loop Trail, along the Eno River that’s so protected it hosts rhododendron, mountain laurel, galax and other plants more common to the Southern Appalachians.
- Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area, Snow Camp. Talk about elevation, we’re looking at roughly 1,000 feet here — in the heart of the Piedmont. Plus, the Northern Approach Trail spends a goodly amount of time on the northern flank of the mountain.
Knight Brown Nature Preserve, Stokesdale. The bulk of the 3-plus-miles of trail is in a well-protected valley carved by Belews Creek. Coupled with a thick canopy, filtering the sun and dropping the temperature below a good 10 degrees, this is one cool hike.
- Raven Rock State Park, Avents Creek Access, Fuquay-Varina. Located on the lesser-used portion of the park north of the Cape Fear River, are a pair of 4-mile loops geared toward equestrians. Hike the West loop counterclockwise and around the 3-mile mark you’ll hit Jumping Fish Falls, with two surprising drops and a couple of refreshing pools.
- Eno River State Park, Buckquarter Creek/Holden Mill figure-8 loop. This hike spends half its time along ridges, catching breezes, the other half along the Eno, which offers several opportunities for wading (especially at Fews Ford).
Hot this weekend, yes. But not too hot to hike.
Get out! And enjoy
GetHiking! Hot Weather Hiking
You can download the hikes mentioned above, along with our Guide to Summer Hiking, for just $1.99. Each hike includes a map specific to the hike, detailed route description, an overview including everything you need to know about the hike (including how to get to the trailhead) and a quick video tour. You’ll also get our GetHiking! Guide to Summer Hiking, with tips on how to weather a hot-weather hike. Learn more and download the package here.