Category Archives: Hiking

GetOut! 5 Adventures for a Steamy Weekend

The first hot weekend of the year is upon us, with temperatures climbing into the mid 90s. As far as weekend adventure goes, that can only mean one thing: water play. That influences our 5 Adventures for this Weekend.

  1. Canoe Hike, Saturday, 10 a.m., Jones Lake State Park, Eizabethtown. Jones Lake, that 224-acre Carolina bay southeast of Fayetteville, begs for attention on a hot day. Take the guided paddle trip, then spend the rest of the day on the beach, enjoying the clean, tannic waters of the lake. A perfect summer adventure. Learn more and register — the paddle is free, but space is limited — here.
  2. Canoe Hike, Saturday, 5 p.m., Carvers Creek State Park, Spring Lake. Says the event description: “We will be learning the basics of canoeing and then trying out our new skills by maneuvering through the Cypress swamp.  This is a slow and calm canoeing experience and great for beginners or if you want to get a closer look at the Cypress trees.” Again, free, but space is limited and you must register in advance. Learn more here.
  3. Stone Mountain Stream Safari, Saturday, 4 p.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap. Even better than being on the water? Being in it, which you’ll be on this 1/2-mile hike in a park stream learning about bugs that live in water and water quality. Learn more here.
  4. Jordan Lake Bald Eagle Paddle, Saturday, 8:30 a.m., Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, Apex. Seeing bald eagles is cool, even more so when you realize, according to outfitter Frog Hollow Outdoors, the “re-introduction of Bald Eagles has been one of our states shining legacies as a true environmental comeback. Due to DDT use in the 70s Bald Eagles had completely disappeared from NC by the early 80s. However, the year following the release of juveniles in Eastern NC, a nesting pair found their home near Jordan Lake. Since that time in 1984, the population of Bald Eagle in NC has soared. Jordan Lake is now considered one of the largest summertime nesting areas for Bald Eagle in the southeastern US. Join us as we paddle the northern reaches of Jordan Lake in search of its majestic residents.” Passage is in sea touring kayaks, eagle sighting is not guaranteed. $55. Learn more and sign up here.
  5. Stargazing paddle, Saturday, 8 p.m., Saxapahaw Lake, Saxapahaw. Says outfitter Haw River Canoe & Kayak, “There is no better way to see the night sky in Central North Carolina than on a dark night with a new moon, while floating on Saxapahaw Lake. Guests will paddle out to the middle of the lake, and adjust their eyes to the night sky. As the stars become brighter, guests will ‘raft-up,’ lay back, and identify stars and constellations. Single kayaks, tandem kayaks, and canoes are available for use. Suitable for all skill levels.” $40-$80, depending upon the boat. Learn more here.

This weekend, tolerate the heat by embracing water.  read more

Guide to Summer Hiking (and why you should!)

Usually it’s mid-June before we’re forced to address the issue of summer heat. Before, that is, we’re forced to issue our annual plea to stay on the trail during the summer months ahead. 

In some parts of the U.S. — the Northeast, the Pacific Coast, the mountain states — hikers live for the summer and its warm days. Not here, where Summer is equated with still air, sticky clothes and sweat-stung eyes.  read more

GetOut! 5 Adventures for the Weekend Ahead

There’s a pretty good looking weekend ahead, with a little rain possible Saturday, warmer temperatures on Sunday. Both days look good for getting out. 

Here are our 5 recommendations for the weekend.

Tanawha/Nuwati Wildflower Hike with a Park Ranger, Saturday, 2 p.m., Grandfather Mountain State Park, Banner Elk. This hike allots plenty of time (3 hours) to cover about 3 miles in search of spring wildflowers. You’ll want that time, too, to learn about the diverse terrain this hike covers along the southeastern flank of Grandfather Mountain. The hike begins at the Boone Fork Parking Area off the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 299.9) and is limited to 15 hikers. Learn more here (including how to register). read more

Taking the mystery out of a snake sighting

Note: The following post originally ran May 7, 2010. It’s been updated, and the information on snake ID is as relevant today as it was 12 years ago. 

Wednesday, I was hiking along the North Prong of Shining Rock Creek, a lively mountain stream that plunges 2,200 feet in just three miles through a narrow, overgrown canyon. I was in a reveric trance, lulled in part by the rugged vegetation here in the Shining Rock Wilderness,  in part by the cloudless, 70-degree spring afternoon, when —
Whoa!
I like snakes, but their sudden appearance four feet away causes me to stop in my tracks and say, “Whoa!” Such impromptu meetups are common this time of year, as we humans hit the trail more and rising temperatures activate these cold-blooded critters. Being in the sun rejuvenates our spirit, it jumpstarts their system.
After catching my breath, I scoped out the critter, taking a couple of pictures, jotting some notes, searching my increasingly porous memory for clues about what kind of snake it might be. Not that my database was brimming to begin with.
When it comes to snakes and birds, I don’t expend a lot of my remaining gray storage memorizing types and species. Two reasons: One, there are thousands of species to begin with, and two, the same critter can look completely different depending on various factors: read more

GetOut! 5 events for a fine Spring weekend

In December, a fire burned 1,050 acres at Pilot Mountain State Park. The Grindstone Fire was caused by a campfire run amok. While it caused no damage to structures, it singed a good deal of the 3,700-acre park north of Winston-Salem. And while the “damage” to the natural world may have looked significant, that’s not necessarily the case. Periodic wildfires are important to the health of any forest, which is the topic of Growth After Fire, an hour-long program at Pilot Mountain State Park Saturday at 2 p.m. “Join a park ranger to discuss fire’s effects on plant and tree growth after a fire,” according to the N.C. State Parks website. Learn more here. (Can’t make Saturday’s session? It will be repeated Sunday at 2 p.m.) read more