We revisit this blog from a couple years back because it’s especially appropriate today, now that gathering in groups, outside, is a thing again. And frankly, gathering 20, 25 good friends for a weekend of camping and hiking is one of the best ways to reunite that we can think of.
The signs of re-emergence continue this weekend, with North Carolina State Parks hosting some of the more ambitious — and larger hikes — that they’ve done since the pandemic, including:
3 Parks — 2 States — 1 Hike, Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Crowders Mountain State Park/Boulders Access, Kings Mountain. This 10-mile out-and-back, co-sponsored by the Friends of Crowders Mountain, takes the Ridgeline Trail south into South Carolina’s Kings Mountain State Park and Kings Mountain National Military Park. A long hike, but it flattens after crossing into the Palmetto State. The hike is limited to 30 (been a while since we’ve seen a hike that big), and drinks and snacks will be available through the Friends prior to the hike. Free, but a donation to support the work of the Friends would be appreciated. Register by calling 704.853.5375; learn more here.
The waterfalls, the mountaintop views, the wildflowers blooming in spring, the trees changing color in fall — all things I love about hiking and backpacking. But what I think I love most — and have missed the most in the past year — is gathering around a campfire at day’s end and simply talking. Talking about who’s having what for dinner, about past trips together, about the simple things … about then Seinfeldian nature of life. The Vicious Circle had their Algonquin Roundtable, campers have their campfire.
Wondering when your favorite seasonal campground or roadside attraction in the National Parks will reopen? We have some dates:
Blue Ridge Parkway
- Price Park Campground at MP 297: April 2-Oct. 31
- Linville Falls at MP 314: April 2-Oct. 31
- Crabtree Falls at MP 339: May 28-Oct. 31
- Mount Pisgah at MP 408.8: May 28-Oct. 31
- Moses Cone Manor House at MP 294: April 15
- Linville Falls at MP 316: April 30.
- N. Museum of Minerals at MP 330: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. through April.
- Craggy Gardens at MP 364.5: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. starting April 17.
- Waterrock Knob at MP 451: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. starting April 17.
Shenandoah National Park
- March 25: Lewis Mountain Campground (mile 57.5)
- March 26: Big Meadows Campground (mile 51.2)
- May 5: Mathews Arm Campground (mile 22.2), Loft Mountain Campground (mile 79.5), and Dundo Group Campground (mile 83.7)
- Picnic Grounds will open on the following schedule:
- March 25: Lewis Mountain Picnic Grounds (mile 57.5)
- March 26: Big Meadows Picnic Grounds (mile 51.2)
- Open year round: Dickey Ridge Picnic Grounds (mile 4.7), Elkwallow Picnic Grounds (mile 24.1), Pinnacles Picnic Grounds (mile 36.7), South River Picnic Grounds (mile 62.8), and Dundo Picnic Grounds (mile 83.7)
- Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.6 Skyline Drive): open Fridays through Tuesdays, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays), No indoor exhibits or films.
- Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51 Skyline Drive)
- Open 7 days a week, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., No indoor exhibits or films.
The restaurants, lodges, and associated facilities operated by the park concessioner, Delaware North, open as follows:
If ever there was a winter to get over your dislike of the cold, this is it.
Without dwelling, cold weather historically drives people indoors, and, this year, indoors is where you have a significantly greater chance of contracting the coronavirus. The advance of fall is already seeing a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in North Carolina and nationwide. In response, on Tuesday North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper dialed back the cap on indoor group gatherings to 10 people. Staying indoors is trouble, especially if you like people.