We love hiking at night. We started doing it about eight years ago in winter when we noticed hikers missed their midweek trail fix. The hikes proved so popular that we now offer night hikes year round.
So with our predilection for post-sunset saunters, we were pleased to see that as part of Merchants Millpond State Park’s Holiday Decorations program with Gates County Community Events, the park will also be closing later, at 8 p.m. as opposed to 6 p.m., both this Friday and Saturday and next (Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18). That means you can come and check out the holiday decorations, then enjoy about three hours of nocturnal navigation.
Merchants Millpond (pictured above) is an especially intriguing spot for a night hike. It’s setting in the swampy northeast corner of the state (it’s a neighbor to the Great Dismal Swamp) gives it a “Creature from the Black Lagoon” feel — at night. Spanish moss drips from bald cypress and tupelo gum, casting eerie shadows on a breezy night. A chorus of frogs in the surrounding wetlands provides a surreal soundtrack. And there’s the park’s “Enchanted Forest.” Again, all this in the dark.
Learn more about how to take advantage of Merchants Millpond after dark and enjoy the park’s holiday decorations by going here.
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Two loves of mine from childhood: 1. Being outside, 2. Reading. That may explain why an event Sunday at 12:15 p.m. at Lake James State Park captures our fancy. The event: Story Walk: ‘The Hike.’ Targeted to preschool and kindergartners, the event focuses on the book, “The Hike,” by Alison Farrell. According to Goodreads.com: “This book tells the story of three girls’ friendship—and their tribulations and triumphs in the great outdoors. Here is the best and worst of any hike: from picnics to puffing and panting, deer-sighting to detours.” In short, it sounds like just the thing to spark an impressionable youngster’s love of the outdoors.
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Here’s another thing we love: winter. Specifically, exploring the outdoors come winter. This isn’t the place to wax about our love of the season (but this is). Suffice it to say it’s a misunderstood season, one that could, like so many things, be better appreciated with a little knowledge. Knowledge like the kind you’ll get Sunday at 2 p.m. at Lake Crabtree County Park in Morrisville, when a naturalist talks about the winter woods.
On the Winter Tree Walk you’ll “learn about some evergreen plants that are still brightening up the landscape and try to identify some trees that have lost their leaves for the winter.”
Free, but preregistration is required, by going here.
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As I mentioned at the top, I love a night adventure. Rarely, though, do we see a night adventure that extends from one day into the next. But if you want to catch the peak of a meteor shower, that’s the price you must pay. And that’s the only price for the Geminid’s Meteor Shower program Monday and Tuesday at West Point on the Eno city park in Durham.
Starting at 10 p.m. Monday and lasting until 2 a.m. Tuesday, you can hang out at West Point’s Eno Environmental Educational Pavilion and watch up to 120 meteors per hour streak across the sky. Again, the event is free but space is limited and preregistration is required, by going here.
Weekend Weather: It gets toasty (and perhaps a little wet) Saturday, with temperatures rising into the low 70s; a late-day cold front Saturday brings temperatures back into the seasonal range Sunday, with highs in the low 50s. Get a more specific forecast for where you are here.
Explore with us!
We have all sorts of GetHiking! hikes and trips planned for winter, including our just-begun Holiday Hiker series, with hikes Sunday afternoon, Tuesday evening, Friday morning and on the Wednesdays preceding Christmas and New Years. Check out the action here.