Kick off a summer of fun

Memorial Day — and the start of summer!

OK, technically summer doesn’t begin until the summer solstice on June 20. But culturally in the U.S. summer always commences Memorial Day weekend and ends Labor Day weekend. (And yes, technically summer doesn’t officially end until the summer equinox, this year on September 22).

Traditionally, summer has been in the season of play in this country. It’s when we take our vacations, it’s when we’re least surprised to find people we need out of the office, it’s when we leave early on Friday — often with the boss’s permission — to jump-start the weekend. There are so many ways to play over the summer. And our goal is to provide you with a variety of options. Among them:

Become a backpacker. Why wait when you can start today! Well, next Wednesday actually, when our summer GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking session kicks off. We begin with a virtual gear session on June 9, we proceed to a 5-hour, in-field training session at Morrow Mountain State Park on Saturday, June 12; we conclude with a weekend graduation trip to South Mountains State Park the weekend of June 18-20. Everything you need to know to become a bonafide backpacker by month’s end. Learn more and sign up here.

Taking a break backpacking at South Mountains

Go backpacking. If you’re already a backpacker (or once you become one with our Intro class!), we take regular backpack trips, at least once a month, throughout the year. Our next trips include:

  • Virginia Triple Crown: a 4-day, 3-night, 35-mile exploration of Virginia’s Triple Crown, taking in Dragon’s Tooth, Tinker Cliffs and McAfee Knob. For experienced backpackers. That trip is June 24-27; learn more and sign up here.
  • Appalachian Trail: Carvers Gap to US 19E, July 16-19. 3-day, 2-nights, 14 miles. Beginner/intermediate. We take time to savor this iconic stretch of the AT along the North Carolina/Tennessee line. Three balds at the start, more fabulous views from Little Hump and Hump mountains near the end, great Southern Appalachian forest along the way. Learn more and sign up here.
  • Wilson Creek. There is no better place in the summer than Wilson Creek and its preponderance of pools collecting cold runoff from Grandfather Mountain above. We hike 7 miles in day packs both days, allowing plenty of time for water play along the way. Learn more and sign up here.

outdoor skillsLearn to navigate the wild. Our GetOriented! Finding your Way in the Woods classes are back after a pandemic-induced hiatus. We spend the first 20 minutes or so of this 3-hour class getting familiar with basic map and compass skills, then head down the trail — and off — to put this skills to use and to become comfortable navigating the woods. We have two classes in June, at Eno River State Park and at Umstead State Park. Click the links for more info and to sign up.

Mountain hiking/camping weekends.  Also back this year are our basecamp hiking weekends! We set up camp Friday afternoon/evening, then do day hikes Saturday and Sunday. Our first trip of the year is to the oldest tract of land in the Pisgah National Forest, the Curtis Creek area outside of Old Fort. Both hikes take in old-growth forest, both originate from the campground: park your car Friday, forget about it until Sunday afternoon. Learn more and sign up here.

Weekly summer hikes. Interested in keeping up your hiking over the summer, but need a little incentive to do so? We have two weekly hike programs that are just the thing!

  • Tuesday Evening Hike Series. Every Tuesday evening at 6:30 we hike 3-4 miles on a different local trail. We take advantage of the late-day light and retreating temperatures for a mid-week after-work escape. Learn more and sign up here.
  • Sunday Summer Hike Series. Every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. we meet at a different trail in the Triangle to hike 3-5 miles before the heat sets in. This hike series runs through August 22. Learn more and sign up here for single hikers, here for couples and families.

Discover camping. You’ve been telling yourself for a while that you’d like to give camping a try. The only thing keeping you? No gear. Our Let’s GetCamping! program takes care of that, providing key camping gear — including a spacious tent, rockin’ camp chairs, a hammock, camp stove and more — and providing direction on what you need to bring for a great introduction to camping. Learn more and sign up here.

It’s summer, it’s time to play! Let’s play together.

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