As Year of the Trail draws to a close, it should be a time of reflection. It should be, but it’s not, for there is work left to be done.
Work in the form of hikes.
One of the many objectives of Year of the Trail, as this year has been designated by the N.C. General Assembly, was to have a trail-related event in all 100 North Carolina counties. Going into this month, 91 counties had hosted Year of the Trail events. For those of us not gifted in mental math, that leaves 9 counties to go. All of which are in more remote, rural areas of the state. Since I was hired by the state last year primarily to promote Year of the Trail in rural counties under Gov. Cooper’s Hometown Strong initiative, I’ve taken it as my goal to make sure a Year of the Trail events gets done in those 9 remaining counties.
Next week, I either will be leading or assisting with 5 hikes. I would love to see you on those hikes, which are:
- Calloway Forest Preserve, Aberdeen (Hoke County), Tuesday, Dec. 19, 10 a.m. 3.2 miles. This nearly 3,000-acre The Nature Conservancy preserve sits in the sandhills, one of the best places we know of for a winter hike. It will be lead by TNC’s Jeff Marcus, NC Longleaf Applied Scientist, and Rhonda Sturgill, TNC Conservation Coordinator. If you care to hike farther, you can up the total to around 6 miles. Learn more and sign up here.
- Boney Mill Pond at Farrior Park, Wallace (Duplin County), Friday, Dec. 22, 10 a.m. 1.2 miles. We will hike the Little Pond Loop from Farrior Park to Boney Mill Pond, then around the pond and back. The trail is especially good for kids, as it is a Kids in Parks’ TRACK Trail featuring 8 Animal Athlete activities. Learn more and sign up here.
- Kinston’s Riverwalk, Kinston (Lenoir County), Friday, Dec. 22, 1 p.m. 1 mile. We’ll take a leisurely pace hiking this roughly 1-mile out-and-back along the Neuse River. The trail is paved and relatively flat, making it kid and stroller friendly. Come early and explore the nearby CSS Neuse and Gov. Richard Caswell Memorial State Historic Site (open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), the Neuseway Nature Park and downtown Kinston. Learn more and sign up here.
- Caswell’s Landing Nature Park, Hookerton (Greene County), Friday, Dec. 22, 2:30 p.m. Roughly 1 mile. Caswell’s Landing Nature Parkis a well-kept secret along Contentnea Creek in Hookerton. Join us for a short hike on trail and gravel road as we wind through bottomland forest. A winter visit means we’ll be able to peer deeper into the naked woods to learn its secrets, both natural and of the area’s human past.Learn more and sign up here.
- Franklin County’s de Hart Botanical Garden, Sunday, Dec. 24, 1:30 p.m. 3 miles. The de Hart Botanical Garden south of Louisburg might be the most ecologically diverse 92 acres in the Piedmont. From the bamboo forest protecting a small creek, to two waterfalls, to the boulder-bordered pond known as a scenic outdoor wedding venue, to the ancient white oak in the preserve’s far reaches, you won’t be disappointed. Founded by Allen de Hart, the noted outdoor author and the man who jump-started the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the preserve has something in bloom every month of the year. Learn more and sign up here.
Ok, 91 – 5 means there are four counties to go. They are:
Those hikes will likely be the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I have some thoughts on locations, but if you have any favorites in these counties, pass them along, to email@example.com. I will post the remaining four hikes in the next week.
In the meantime, I hope to see you on one of next week’s Year of the Trail hikes!