The good news for the weekend: the heat — excessive heat — will move out. It will, however, be replaced with a little rain. So keep a close eye on the forecast, the radar and the sky before heading out. And when you do head out, here are 5 of our favorite options for the weekend.
Hike: Natural Communities of Jockey’s Ridge, Saturday, 9 a.m., Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head. When most of us think about Jockey’s Ridge, we think of the sand dunes, which can reach as high as 60 feet above sea level (which is a stone’s throw to the east). In fact, on the sound side there’s a diverse community consisting of American beachgrass, and thickets of wax myrtle, bayberry, red cedar, live oak and red bay. Learn more about the diverse ecology of this Outer Banks park on this recurring hike. Learn more about the event here.
Nature Hike, Saturday, 11 a.m., Mount Mitchell State Park, Burnsville. From 60 feet above sea level (Jockey’s Ridge, above), to nearly 6,700 feet above sea level — that’s the difference between one of North Carolina’s lowest state parks and its highest. That difference will be highlighted on this 3/4-mile hike on the Balsam Nature Trail, where the focus will be on a rare Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest. Starts and ends at the gift shop! Learn more here.
Stream Safari, Saturday, 3 p.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap. Getting wet on a summer hike in the Piedmont doesn’t necessarily equate with cooling off. But that starts to change when the Piedmont butts up against the Blue Ridge Escarpment, in this case at Stone Mountain State Park, where the numerous water encounters are all refreshing. That includes Saturday’s Stream Safari, the chance to wade into a creek, cool your dogs and learn about the water ecology. Learn more here.
Canoe Hike, Sunday, 6 p.m., Carvers Creek State Park, Spring Lake. Like to wring the most out of your weekend, to explore until the very end? Then cap it with this half-mile paddle through a Cypress swamp. Great for beginning paddlers and those of us who love a good swamp. Free, but pre-registration is required, by calling 910.436.4681. Learn more here.
Self-Guided Hike: Horseshoe Road Nature Preserve, Tar River Land Conservancy, Creedmoor. Our friends at the Tar River Land Conservancy today are opening a new preserve and you’re welcome to hike it! The 241-acre preserve near Creedmoor has 2.4 miles of trail: the linked 1.1-mile Pine Trail and the 1.3-mile Beaver Trail. According to the conservancy, the trail explores hardwood and pine forest, crosses several creeks, visits a wetland. Since last fall more than 110 bird species have been ID’d at the preserve, earning it a birding hotspot designation by Cornell University’s eBird program. Learn more about the new preserve and find a trail map here.
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Hike Solo, with GetHiking!
No one to hike with this weekend and you’re leery of hiking alone? Our new GetHiking! Hiking Solo program aims to make you a confident, competent, and comfortable hiker. We start with a Zoom session to go over how to prepare for a solo hike and what to expect, then take you on a “supervised” solo hike to ease you into hiking alone. What’s a “supervised solo hike,” you ask? You’ll have to check out the course description here to find out. Our first session is July 16 at Eno River State Park.