GetBackpacking! Winter 2022

Take the winter off from backpacking?

Not hardly.

Not when you live in part of the country where you can experience a rare coastal forest escape, hike on the country’s most iconic trail, and explore a high country oasis all while enjoying the cold embrace of the season, minus the threat. Sure, it can get cold and there can be snow. But not to the extent you need extreme weather gear to survive. Rather, winter here offers a stark beauty that can be enjoyed in solitude. And if you really don’t like the “cold,” but can tolerate cool, winter backpacking at the coast offers an experience you can’t have any other time of year.

This winter, GetBackpacking! offers three trips that capture the best of what backpacking has to offer during a season too often associated with hibernation, not exploration. Two are classics that we’ve done the past several years, one is new to our GetBackpacking! program.


Neusiok Trail, Croatan National Forest, Havelock 

  • 21 miles
  • 2 nights
Neusiok Trail, Croatan National Forest

The 21-mile Neusiok Trail takes you backpacking where most people least expect to go backpacking: a coastal swamp, But it’s more than just that. For our hike, we start late Friday afternoon and hike 2 miles to camp. It’s a hike at dusk, where the sun sets over the expansive Newport River, dipping below the horizon about the time we turn inland to camp. Day 2 takes us through coastal woods so dense the only clearing is the wide-foot-wide  path that slices through bay thickets and a variety of bushes before opening into pine savannah. On a cold, sunny winter’s day it doesn’t get much better. Day 3 begins the same, then morph’s for 5 miles into rolling terrain and woods more reminiscent of the Piedmont before concluding with a mile-long run along the mile-wide Neuse River, which at this point more resembles the Pamlico Sound it will shortly feed into.

Dates: January 28-30 

Learn more and register here.


Appalachian Trail between Max Patch and Hot Springs

  • 21 miles
  • 2 nights
Hiking the AT on Max Patch

Part of the thrill of this 21-mile trek — and the reason we do it every February — is that you never know what to expect. Three years ago, the forecast, at one point, called for up to 20 inches of snow and temperatures dropping to 7 degrees (we postponed that one). Another year, the temperature hit 70 degrees and, I swear to Colin Fletcher, we saw spring beauties popping up at 4,500 feet. We begin Friday afternoon taking a shuttle from Hot Springs to Max Patch; we soak up the view, then hike 2 miles to camp for the night. Saturday is 11 miles of AT delight, hiking mostly through classic Southern Appalachian hardwood forest, passing through a couple of gaps, hiking over 4,692-foot Bluff Mountain, then dropping into Garenflo Gap, to camp. The 7-mile hike out on Sunday ascends Lamp Knob, then mellows out, for the most part, with a descent into Hot Springs — where a variety of burger options awaits.

Dates: February 25-27 

Learn more and register here.


Mount Rogers, Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Virginia

  • 20 miles (basecamp backpack)
  • 2 nights
Mount Rogers ponies along AT

The Mount Rogers area of southwest Virginia is one of the most scenic and popular backpacking destinations in the Southeast. It includes the two highest points in Virginia and open terrain akin to what you might expect out West. If you’re a backpacker and it’s not on your bucket list, it should be. On this trip we hike in a mile or so east from Elk Garden off Whitetop Road and set up basecamp. Saturday, we don daypacks for a 12.5-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail into the heart of Mount Rogers (including summiting the 5,772-foot peak, returning on the Virginia Horse Trail. Sunday, we hike to 5,525-foot Whitetop for more great views.

Dates: March 11-13 

Learn more and register here.

* * *

Thru-hikes on shorter trails in 2022

off trail

Also on tap for 2022, we will lead four thru-hikes on the state’s shorter long trails. They are:

  • Neusiok Trail, Croatan National Forest, 21 miles. Jan. 28-30 (see above)
  • N.C. Bartram Trail, Nantahala National Forest, 50 miles (approx), summer, date tbd.
  • Art Loeb Trail, Pisgah National Forest, 31 miles, fall, date tbd.
  • Foothills Trail, North Carolina/South Carolina line, 77 miles, date tbd.

We will have details on the last three hikes soon. In addition, we will offer a winter/spring training program pertinent to these trips but also appropriate for anyone who plans to have an ambitious summer and fall of backpacking. Maybe you’re planning your own long hike, maybe you’re planning a trip out west. Our program will help get you where you need to be by the end of spring. Details coming shortly on this program, as well. 

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