One of the reasons we like to do a GetBackpacking! trip to the Shining Rock area in April is because we get to revisit spring. Traditionally, we begin at the Shining Rock Creek/Big East Fork Trailhead off US 276, at an elevation of about 3,100 feet. Here, spring is well underway, with mid-spring wildflowers in bloom, the trees essentially leafed out. But as we climb, as we gain more than 2,400 vertical feet on a 4.3-mile climb up to Shining Rock Gap, time begins to reverse itself. Trees just beginning to sprout leaves, wildflowers of the early season sort. By the time we reach the top, the trees are winter-bare, first-responder bluets dominate the wildflower scene. A visit to Shining Rock is like going back in time.
Same thing the annual Profile Trail Wildflower hikes at Grandfather Mountain, which kick off this weekend. For us flatlanders it’s the spring wildflower season all over again. And while the 3-hour hike is listed as covering 3 miles, you needn’t hike that far before you start seeing some spring sensations beneath the barren canopy along the Watauga River. If you miss this Saturday’s hike, there will be more. Learn more here.
If you’ve been keeping up with spring and wonder what’s next, then check out Sunday afternoon’s weekly Spring Wildflower Hike along the Eno, with the Eno River Association. This week’s hike is at Eno River State Park’s Fews Ford Access, starting from the Piper Cox House and heading out the Buckquarter Creek Trail. This hike will cover about a mile and will check out the wildflowers displays in a variety of habitats, including field, forest and river floodplain. Learn more and sign up here.
Most of the hikes offered through N.C. State Parks have an educational focus, cover short distances, and go at a snail’s pace. But sometimes you just feel like pulling out the stops and giving those Vasques some vroom. If you’re of such a mind this Saturday, check out The Triangle Land Conservancy’s weekly Speed Hike, at Johnston Mill Nature Preserve. A 3-mile hike at a 20-minute-per-mile pace — allow 1 hour for this hike. Learn more and sign up here.
Weatherwise, we’re looking at a cool Saturday (highs in the 60s) and a warmer Sunday, with a high topping 80 and a chance of thunderstorms, mostly in the afternoon.
Spring won’t be here forever. Take that as added incentive this weekend to GetOut!