GetOut! A good weekend to go coastal

Three hikes this Saturday at the coast catch my eye for several reasons. Mainly, though, because they celebrate the coast in a season when it most deserves to be celebrated.

True, most of us think of the coast mostly in summer, when it comes time for the annual week-long beach vacation, a time for heat, sun, surf and crowds.

Come winter, though, and you only have one of those. And it’s all you need. A sunny day at the coast or in the coastal plain is more than enough to ward off the chill of a 40-degree day. The winter sun illuminates the wide-open plains, sounds and beaches, letting us see deeper into nature. Here’s where that focus will be focused on these three N.C. State Parks hikes.

  • Birding 101, Saturday, 10 a.m., Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, Kure Beach. Learn the basics of birding in an area where birds are flocking to spend the winter. A great spot for hands-on learning. Free, but registration is required, by calling 910.458.5798. Learn more here. 
  • Soundside Nature Trail Hike, Saturday, 10 a.m., Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head. Think of Jockey’s Ridge and you think of wading up and down the shifting dunes. But on the west side of the park, nestled against Roanoke Sound, is the 3/4-mile Soundside Nature Trail, which, in a short distance, goes through wetlands, grassy dunes and maritime thickets. Learn about these coastal environments on this 45-minute hike commencing from the Soundside Access. Learn more here.
  • Biological Wonderland Hike, 10 a.m., Saturday, Carolina Beach State Park, Carolina Beach. A variety of coastal ecosystems can be found in the park, from forests of longleaf pine, turkey oak and live oak to relict sand dunes to shrubby swamps called pocosins. Learn about a number of these on this one-hour hike. Free, but space is limited; call 910.458.8206 to reserve a spot. Learn more here.

You can find other outings this weekend at North Carolina State Parks by going here.

A reminder that Pilot Mountain State Park, a popular fall destination, remains closed as a result of a fire that burned more than 1,000 acres. No report on when the park will reopen.

A reminder, too, that, as we enter the hectic holidays you may find yourself needing a little extra incentive to get out and hike. How about the opportunity to hike either Sunday morning or Sunday afternoon? Or Tuesday evening? Or Friday morning? Maybe even a couple Wednesday afternoons? Those are all options as part of our 15-hike GetHiking! Hike Through the Holidays hiking series. Stress levels are high during the holiday season; you need hiking more than ever. Check out the series here. 

And this just in: we have two spots remaining for Saturday’s GetOriented! Finding Your Way in the Woods session at Umstead State Park in Raleigh. We spend the first 20 minutes of this 3-hour class going over basic map and compass skills, then head down the trail and off to put those skills to work. Learn more and sign up here. 

Those are our thoughts for the weekend, a weekend that will see temperatures as high as 70, with logs of sun.

GetOut! And enjoy.

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