GetOut! T’was the weekend before Christmas …

On our weekly Tuesday Night Hike this past week we lingered at hike’s end to take in the three-quarternmoon that lit the tree-lined parking area. While our 3-mile night hike on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail was pretty great, we might have been just as content to hang out in the lot and bask in the moonlight. Imagine, I thought, being under a full moon and in an area with even more exposure. 

An area such as Jockey’s Ridge State Park where, atop a dune you have an unobstructed 360-degree view that includes the Atlantic Ocean. And under a full moon? Can you imagine? Well, no need to simply have to imagine such luminescent lunar lusciousness when, on Saturday you’ll have a chance to experience it live, with Hike to the Light, an evening that will include s’mores and hot chocolate (courtesy the Friends of Jockey’s Ridge) and the lit Christmas tree atop one of the dunes. Hike to the Light begins at 5:30, and while it’s free, space is limited so preregistration is required, by calling 252.441.7132. Learn more about the event here.

One of our favorite places to visit this time of year is the Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve in Southern Pines. Populated by pines, including the longleaf, the preserve exhibits a certain glow in winter that makes even a 30-degree day seem warm and inviting. And a great place to be Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., for the 1.5-mile Wiregrass to Wetlands that will “explore the sandhills from top to bottom.” That is from, those wiregrass and pine covered hills to a curious, swamp-like wetland in the preserve’s lower reaches. Learn more here.

A reminder that the annual Christmas Bird Count is underway: it began Tuesday and continues through Jan. 5. There will be counts aplenty across the state over the three-week period as citizen scientists work a 15-mile area to document the local bird population. One of those counts is this Saturday, from 8  to 10 a.m., at the Walnut Creek Wetland Park in Raleigh. Accomplished birders will be on hand to help novices identify and record the local bird population. Learn more about this count here, about the Christmas Bird Count in general, here.

For those who like to look ahead, two events to make note of:

  • First Day Hikes. For several years now, State Parks across the country have committed to leading New Years Day hikes, or First Day Hikes as they’ve come to be known. You can find a rundown of First Day Hikes in North Carolina here, in Virginia here.
  • Hike the Weetock Trail. If you’re looking to make 2022 a true year of adventure, then you can’t get it off to a more adventurous start than with our 2022 GetHiking! kickoff hike on the 11-mile Weetock Trail in the Croatan National Forest. The first half of the hike is a nice ramble on easy-to-follow trail, the second half a true explorer’s dream. Learn more and sign up here.

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An active start to 2022

Get the new year off to an active start with a First Day Hike, then keep the mojo going by committing yourself to a weekly hike. Such as:

  • Weetok Trail

    GetHiking! Sunday Hike Series. Hike every Sunday through winter with this series of hikes that average about 5 miles. Learn more about our 10 a.m. hike series here, the 1 p.m. series here.

  • GetHiking! Tuesday Night Winter Series. Ten weekly hikes on Tuesday evenings to help you stay active midweek. Each hike is about 3 miles. Learn more here.

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