5 Fall Blue Ridge Hikes: Great Color, No Crowds

If you get the urge to check out fall color in the next couple of weekends, a bit of advice:

Don’t go where the leaf peeping experts say to go.

Their advice gravitates to the easily accessible go-to color hotspots, mostly along the easily accessed Blue Ridge Parkway: Graveyard Fields, Rough Ridge, Price Lake … . Sure, photos taken within the past few days scream chamber-of-commerce-certified color, but they’re screaming it to the tens of thousands of others looking for a quick autumn fix. A fix that can be had without venturing too far from the car. With a classic fall forecast for this weekend, expect those hotspots to be just that in more ways than one. read more

Holiday Adventures with Visiting Family and friends

It’s a common challenge over the holidays: you have family and friends visiting from afar — now, what are you going to do with them?

Take them on an adventure! Or, rather, let us help you take them on an adventure!

We’ve got several outdoor adventures this holiday season that are ideal for getting everyone out of the house and showing off the region’s great outdoor attributes!  read more

GetOut! No rain, no reason not to get out

As someone pointed out on Facebook earlier this week, this is the first time since November that a seven-day forecast has not included a chance of rain. Further, we’re looking at sunny days with temperatures in the 50s for the weekend, rising into the low 70s by the end of next week. Thus, you are obligated to get out. And we are obligated to help you.

=&0=&Another solid reason to get out: the flowers in the forest are just now starting to bloom. Some of the hardiest bloomers: the daffodils. They come out early, they stay out when the cold forces other early responders to fold. Find three of our favorite daffodil hikes in our GetHiking! Guide to 3 Daffodil Hikes.

=&1=&. Come that first nice weekend in spring — and this one appears to be it — everyone wants to hike. That means the trails with the easiest access — from visitor centers, with trailhead addresses — get the most attention. Our GetHiking! Three Hikes for Avoiding the Masses guide takes you to the trails less traveled. 

=&2=& Getting out for even an hour on a weekend like the one we’re about to see can make a world of difference. Our

GetHiking! 5 Great Short Hikes in the Triangle read more

Finding spring, making the most of it

Remember those two really nice days last week? We spent them doing field research, seeking signs of spring.

And we found them. The two spring wildflowers that, to us, signify that spring has sprung: the spring beauty and the trout lily. Both are featured in the accompanying video, shot along the banks of the Eno River in both Durham and Orange counties. Our search is also the topic of this week’s GetHiking! Southeast Podcast, which you may find here. 

To aid you in your transition to spring, we share key resources, resources we suspect will come in handy in the weeks ahead. And note that Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 14, at 2 a.m.: don’t forget to spring forward.

Sunrise/Sunset times. Enter your location and the date and sunrise-sunset.org will tell you not only the official sunrise and sunset times for a given day, but the amount of twilight on both ends as well.

Spring wildflower ID. Like to know what you’re looking at as spring unfolds? The piedmont-centric  A Virtual Wildflower Garden Across Time identifies spring wildflowers both by color of petals and when they typically emerge, making it easier to tell your asters (which bloom as early as January) from your fleabanes.

=&2=&. Longer daylight means longer hours at your local parks. Many North Carolina State Parks, for instance, begin staying open until 8 p.m. in March (and as late as 10 p.m. as summer nears). Check local state park hours at the links below:

North Carolina State Parks

South Carolina State Parks read more

GetHiking! Spring 2021

spring hiking

It’s been a long, cold lonely winter, but spring is nigh and, yes, here comes the sun. Really, there’s probably never been a spring that’s beckoned more for us to get out and embrace the warmth and rebirth of spring. And we’re here to help you make that happen, with our lineup of spring hiking programs.

GetHiking! Spring 2021 Sunday Morning Hike Series

  • 11 hikes
  • Sundays at 10 a.m., March 14 through May 16
  • $115 for single hikers, $195 for couples and families
  • 10 spots

The outdoors remains the safest place you can be, and our GetHiking! Spring Hike Series lets you experience the outdoors in a small group (each hike is limited to 10 hikers) enjoying the trail as temperatures begin to rise. We have 10 hikes planned from March into mid-May, on some of the Triangle’s best hidden gems. Hikes are generally 5 to 6 miles, with the last hike closer to 7. Learn more and sign up to join us here for single hikers or here for couples and families.

GetHiking! Spring 2021 Sunday Afternoon Hike Series

  • 11 hikes
  • Sunday’s at 1 p.m., March 14 through May 16
  • $115 for single hikers, $195 for couples and families
  • 10 spots

The outdoors remains the safest place you can be, and our GetHiking! Spring Hike Series lets you experience the outdoors in a small group (each hike is limited to 10 hikers) enjoying the trail as temperatures begin to rise. We have 10 hikes planned from March into mid-May, on some of the Triangle’s best hidden gems. Hikes are generally 5 to 6 miles, with the last hike closer to 7. Learn more and sign up to join us here for single hikers or here for couples and families.

GetHiking! Spring 2021 Evening Ephemeral Hike Series

  • 8 hikes
  • Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., March 9 through April 27
  • $95 for individual hikers, $150 for couples and families
  • 10 spots

Welcome spring with our series of Tuesday evening spring ephemeral hikes! Each hike is roughly 3 miles, starts at 6:30 p.m. and is a great way to welcome spring on different trail throughout the Triangle. The hike series begins March 9 and runs through April 27.

Learn more and sign up to join us here for single hikers or here for couples and families.

GetHiking! Get Comfortable with an Evening Hike

  • Zoom classroom session and a Wednesday evening hike
  • March and April sessions available
  • Handouts: GetHiking! Rule the Dark! Tips for Hiking After Dark, and GetHiking! Top 10 Evening Hikes
  • $65 for individuals, $95 for couples and families
  • Each hike limited to 7

Take the trepidation out of taking an after-work hike with with our two-part GetHiking! Get Comfortable with an Evening Hike class. Learn the tricks of hiking as daylight fades to night, then join us on an evening hike. It’s a great way to work in a mid-week hike and to hike the trails when they’re the least crowded.

Learn more and sign up to join us here for single hikers or here for couples and families.

Let’s GetHiking! Spring 2021 Series for the Aspiring Hiker read more

GetBackpacking! Spring 2021

Outdoor escapes in 2017 — Linville Gorge
Savording Linville Gorge from Shortoff Mountain

We’ve already had a couple of good backpack trips this year, on the Neusiok Trail in the coastal  Croatan National Forest in January, and on the Appalachian Trail in the Pisgah and Cherokee national forests in February. We have two more weekend trips planned, and will be adding longer trips shortly. So far, here’s our lineup:

GetBackpacking! Early Season Basecamp Trip to Linville Gorge

  • March 12-14
  • $115

On this early season backpack visit to Linville Gorge we set up base camp atop Shortoff Mountain Friday afternoon, then spend Saturday in day packs exploring the gorge. Sunday, we hike out, then do a 4- to 5-mile hike on the Fonta Flora State Trail before heading home.

Learn more here. THIS TRIP IS SOLD OUT.

GetBackpacking! Intermediate Skills: Going Solo, at Wilson Creek

  • April 9-11
  • $145
  • read more

    Our top YouTube channels covering the Southeast

    Back in the day — in this case, the day being nearly a half century ago — when I was seeking a new adventure, first thing I’d do was head downtown to the Eastern Mountain Sports store in my hometown of Denver and start rifling through the chest of drawers holding Colorado’s topo maps. 

    The maps were pure magic, with their 40-foot interval topo lines easing away from one another to reveal more hospitable routes of passage, squenching up to show steep terrain beyond my skill — or interest — level. Wavy blue lines showed sources of water, blue ovals potential fishing spots. Oh, and those concentric circles! We especially coveted the concentric circles leading to a summit. It was all about the summit, back in the day.

    Lest you misunderstand, my romanticizing is not a call for a return to the past. 

    Topo maps were also unruly — about 22 inches by 27 inches — and rarely did the trip you sought fit onto one map. Typically, you’d have to piece together two or three maps to put together a decent weekend backpack trip. Today, any number of online topo maps let you create a seamless map for your adventure.

    One of the big advantages, though, to the old way was that Inevitably, while I was working this awkward puzzle, one of the store people would sidle up and start asking questions about the maps I was inspecting.  

    Ever hiked this area before? 

    You do know what the lines being close together means, right? 

    You in better shape than you look?

    Eventually, though, this hazing would yield a trip that, thanks to this found expertise, would work out pretty well. So well, that on subsequent visits to the shop I’d seek the same guy’s counsel. Eventually, you’d become something resembling friends. (Although I don’t recall every being asked to tag along on one of his trips)

    Today, the process for launching an adventure is different. Gone are those topo dispensaries where a befuddled looking soul could, without even asking, elicit advice. Today? Today we have YouTube.

    There’s a lot of everything on YouTube, from 40-year-old Saturday Night Live skits to dancing pigs to how to make a cute crop top out of a t-shirt. (The latter I got by simply typing “How To” into the search — it was one of the first options to come up.) 

    And, there are also a lot of aspiring Jimmy Chins and Craig Fosters armed with an iPhone12 and a GoPro eager to tell the stories of their adventures. Some are of the — this is what me and my bros did this weekend — variety. Others seem to feel an obligation of this social media age to document every move they make. 

    But then you find a true gem. Someone who genuinely wants to share their passion for the outdoors and their love for discovering new places. People interested in giving you a true sense of a trail — yes, the highlights, but also a sense of what you’ll spend most of your time seeing. They’re more interested in the places they’re exploring than in themselves, they respect the viewer’s time, and in the end, they simply appreciate a good adventure.

    So today when I go searching for new places to explore, I start with some of the YouTube shooters I’ve come to appreciate most. Folks who’ve earned my trust and won’t lead me astray.

    Today on the GetHiking! Southeast Podcast I review four of my favorite YouTube shooters who appreciate a good adventure in the Southeastern United States. Some spend all of their time here. Some explore elsewhere, but it’s apparent they have a fondness for the wilds of the Southeast. And I’m not simply reviewing them. I’m on a mission: I’m out to find a new place to lead a trip later this year — maybe a backpack trip, maybe a basecamp hiking trip. For each channel I mention a key find in their oeuvre. Then, at the end I’ll announce the most appealing new venue and our destination for the fall. 

    The four channels, along with a brief description:

    • Zach’s Mild Adventures. Zach files trip reports with the hiking website Hiking Upward; he has 123 up so far, most of which are accompanied by the videos Zach has posted. Watch the video, get a sense of an adventure, then find all the pertinent details for taking a trip at Hiking Upward.
    • Sintax77. This Delaware-based adventurer explores up and down the East Coast, but spends a considerable amount of time in the Southeast. He provided the inspiration for our to-be-announced fall trip, to the Big Fork National Recreation Area in Tennessee/Kentucky.
    • The Outdoor Gear Review. Based in North Carolina, this prolific channel — 1,414 videos as of press time — does both gear reviews and chronicles adventures, often in the same video.
    • Hiking with Braids. A great source of video information for exploring in Tennessee.

    Learn more about these channels and why we like them on today’s GetHiking! Southeast podcast,

    Our Favorite YouTube channels that cover the Southeast read more

    Explore the outdoors, discover yourself.