Will you remember where you were on the first Great Trails State Day?

I remember where I was on the very first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970: Standing mid-thigh in central Pennsylvania’s Buffalo Creek, ostensibly taking measurements of stream flow but instead watching the very expensive stream-flow measuring device break its cable and disappear quickly downstream. I remember this more than a half century later because our usually mild-mannered science teacher, Mr. Morris, became wildly animated as he told just how expensive the device, which he’d borrowed, was.

I’m reminded of this memorable event because I wonder if, 53 years from now, I’ll remember where I was on my very first Great Trails State Day. OK, probably not because I would be 130 and my memory might have faded by then. But I won’t be fuzzy on my whereabouts because of a lack of great ways to observe Great Trails State Day, which is this Saturday.

Great Trails State Day is part of our ongoing Year of the Trail activities in North Carolina. Year of the Trail was decreed by the State Legislature, and it wasn’t an empty proclamation. It came with $29.15 million for the Complete the Trails Fund (target to North Carolina’s then 12, now 14 State Trails), and the suggestion that if there was good response to Year of the Trail, more state money for trail development might be forthcoming. And it was: the state budget recently passed for 2023-2025 included $25 million for trail development.

Back to Saturday. How will I be observing Great Trails State Day?

  • Will I be in Burnsville, celebrating the fact there are more than 100 miles of public hiking trails (not to mention climbing and paddling) in Yancey County?
  • Will I be in Caldwell County participating in Hudson Parks & Rec’s “Story Walk,” held in conjunction with Smart Start?
  • Perhaps I’ll throw the bike on the rack and head to Goldsboro for “Ride the City” for one of three levels of guided bike rides.
  • Of course, there’s also the “Pinecone Pathways Special Edition Treasure Hunt” in Moore County, where there’s the chance to find one of 10 glass-blown pinecones secreted along the trail.
  • There’s also the “Downtown Greenway Guided Walking Tour,” a 4-mile guided walk through downtown Greensboro.

As of 9 a.m. on Oct. 18, there were 32 Great Trails State Day events listed on the Great Trails State Coalition website, with events to be found across the state, from Corolla (“The OBX Way: Corolla Trail Talk)” to Old Fort (“McDowell Moves 2023“).

Actually, I do know where I’ll be for Great Trails State Day: Shelby, where the City of Shelby and the N.C. Department of Natural Resources’ Hometown Strong initiative will celebrate Shelby Trail Days with three days of events, starting Friday and ending Sunday afternoon. The event includes hikes on the Shelby greenway system, including the dedication of the first mile of the new Carolina Harmony Trail, a rails-to-trails project that will link downtown Shelby with the South Carolina state line. Thirteen trail-related events in all, AND, it’s held in conjunction with Shelby’s Mush, Music & Mutts Festival. (As part of the event, even though it’s not on Saturday, is a guided hike at Crowder’s Mountain State Park from the Boulders Access, which you can learn more about here.)

All in all, Great Trails State Day will be a day to remember. Perhaps even when you’re 130.

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For all the Great Trails State Day events, visit the Great Trails State Coalition website here.

GetHiking! Fall Weekend Escape on the AT at Hot Springs

Looking for one last hiking fling for 2023? Join us Nov. 10-12 for two days of hiking on the Appalachian Trail out of Hot Springs. Both hikes start from Tanyard Gap: Saturday’s heads up to Rich Mountain, then returns to Hot Springs on Forest Service Trail down a long ridge; Sunday’s hike follows the AT west over Lover’s Leap into Hot Springs. Learn more about the weekend and sign up to join us here.

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