The northern mountains of North Carolina have the least amount of public land in the high country, yet the few places that are open to exploring offer some of the best adventures in the state.
Elk Knob State Park, for instance, located between Boone and West Jefferson, has one of the best mountaintop views in the state (see photo at top) from its 5,520-foot summit, a sweeping look east, north and west into Virginia and Tennessee. (And the 2-mile climb to get there is swell as well.)
Mount Jefferson State Natural Area towers above the town of Jefferson, and if you’re not up for the 1,000-foot vertical climb to the top, you can drive to the top and hike around this 4,465-foot mountaintop.
Pond Mountain. Love Mount Rogers in Virginia but aren’t crazy about the crowds? Pond Mountain, a joint venture by the Blue Ridge Conservancy and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, is a similarly open and exposed mountain that also has that wide-lonesome feel of the West.
New River. One of the oldest rivers in the world and one of the most relaxing to paddle (you can even hike along its banks).
That’s just a taste of the adventure to be had at the Year of the Trail Weekend Festival in West Jefferson Aug. 4-6. The event is sponsored by the towns of West Jefferson, Lansing and Jefferson; Ashe County; the Blue Ridge Conservancy; the New River Conservancy; and, the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ Hometown Strong initiative.read more
Not when you love the outdoors and 2023 happens to be Year of the Trail in North Carolina.
As I’ve mentioned over the last couple of months, next year has been deemed Year of the Trail in North Carolina and there’s going to be a lot going on. For starters, the State Legislature in 2022 allocated $29.15 million in funding for the Complete the Trails Fund. That money will fund State Trail projects as well as projects deemed :shovel-ready” — that is, the land has been purchased and the trail designed; all that’s needed now is the money to build it. Expect a lot of “Excuse our Mess” signs out in the woods next year.read more
When National Trails Day got its start in the early 1990s, it was gauged by the number of events and participants.
“Media impressions,” of which there were more than 900 million in 2018.
For the past 25 years, the American Hiking Society has decreed the first Saturday in June to be National Trails Day, a day of celebration for our beloved hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Events around the country celebrate by holding trail workdays, hikes and various celebratory events. It’s a great opportunity to get out and let your local trails know how much you appreciate them.read more
Yeah, there’s a little rain in the forecast for the weekend. However:
It’s a forecast, which is essentially an educated guess, which is subject to not being accurate;
There do appear to be some less wet spots in the forecast; and,
Why should that keep us from having a little fun at least planning for the weekend?
That said, here three ideas for getting out and exploring:
B.W. Wells Heritage Day, Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Falls Lake State Recreation Area, Wake Forest. There’s a cool area of Falls Lake State Recreation Area on the east side of the lake that few people know about: the B.W. Wells area. It’s where B.W. Wells, a botany professor at N.C. State and one of the state’s foremost early ecologists lived and peppered his land with a variety of plant life. The area is usually closed, but is open for touring on Heritage Day. Learn more about B.W. Wells here, learn more about B.W. Wells Heritage Day here.read more
Temperatures in the 70s, mostly sunny skies — sounds like a weekend to get out and explore in the GetOut! universe. Some options for your adventure consideration:
High 5 @ Hanging Rock, Saturday, beginning at 7 a.m., Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury. Our friends with the Friends of Sauratown Mountains do a great job supporting both Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock state parks, the west and east endpoints, respectively, of the Sauratown Mountain range. They support the parks in a variety of ways, one of which is by funding some of the smaller park projects that might not otherwise get done. Where do they get their money? you ask. From events like High 5 @ Hanging Rock. The goal of High 5 is to hike all 5 of Hanging Rock’s key high points: Moore’s Knob, Cooks Wall, Hanging Rock, Wolf Rock and House Rock. Complete the circuit and get a patch! There are two rest stops along the route, foot trucks at the finish (get a $5 food truck voucher upon registration). Cost is $40, which, again, will largely go to benefit the parks. Learn more and sign up here.read more