You likely can tick off all the great adventures you’ve had at the coast, in the Piedmont, in the mountains. But what about in the far northeast corner of the state, where perhaps the state’s most unique adventure challenge awaits — the Great Dismal Swamp.
Wednesday, we talked about “back door” hikes, hikes that are off the beaten path, hikes at some of our favorite places, but without the crowds. He brought up these hikes because escaping the masses will be even more of a challenge as the fall hiking season approaches,
Few places do as good a job of quickly escorting you from civilization as the 189-acre Knight Brown Nature Preserve. Take the Beechwood Bottom Loop Trail from the trailhead and hike clockwise, and you quickly descend to Belews Creek. (As soon as you reach the creek, look across, to the north, for a cascade tumbling down the far slope.) Large sections of three trails run along the creek, which has forged a surprisingly deep valley: in just over a tenth of a mile, the terrain rises 80 vertical feet above the creek. The east-facing slope probed by the Leatherwood Loop Trail has some understory growth, but for the most part, the high canopy provides a protective roof above open terrain below. Nice in summer because it blocks out the sun but not the downslope breezes, nice in winter because the leafy canopy disappears letting the sun’s warming rays penetrate. Belews Creek, which runs west, then north through the preserve, offers rocky relief, spilling over car-size boulders in spots, before mellowing out on its journey to the Dan River.
It’s gonna be one summery weekend, with temperatures in the 90s throughout most of our adventuring region. Our recommendations for this weekend are with the heat in mind.
Stream Safari, Saturday, 2 p.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap. Water — clear, cool water — is a key component of this event, in which water bugs, water quality and staying cool are the focus. If you’re one of those folks who’ve always meant to visit Stone Mountain (but haven’t), here’s a good opportunity. And since Stone Mountain is likely a drive for many of you, we suggest also paying a visit to the park’s namesake, a 600-foot granite dome, via the 4.5-mile Stone Mountain Loop Trail (which also visits a 200-foot waterfall). Learn more about the hike here, the park here.
We return to winter-like temperatures (in the 40s) this weekend, which makes our thoughts turn to adventure that keeps us on the move. Our three suggestions for the weekend:
- Aquatic Ecosystem Hike, Saturday, 2 p.m., Haw River State Park, Browns Summit. If you live in the central Piedmont, you’ve likely crossed the Haw River a time or two. And perhaps you’ve wondered: Where does this thing begin? It begins north of Greensboro, pretty much where you’ll find Haw River State Park, site of Saturday’s 1.5-mile walk checking out the river’s headwaters and the plants and critters that call it home. Learn more here.
- Sunday Saunter, Sunday, 10:30 a.m., Eno River State Park, Durham. Eno River State Park has been hosting a series of Sunday morning hikes that are a little longer (in this case, 3 to 4 miles) and a little more laid back. This Sunday: a mellow meander along the Cole Mill and Bobbit Hole trails. Learn more here.
- Jomeokee Hike, Sunday, 10 a.m., Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle. You love the idea of exploring Pilot Mountain on the weekend, but you don’t love the idea of the crowds. Beat the wait for a parking spot up top by coming early for this hike exploring the base of the pinnacle. Distance: a little less than a mile.
As always, you can find more opportunities this weekend here:
- North Carolina State Parks have a variety of adventures planned for the weekend. Check those options here.
- North Carolina Environmental Education Centers has an extensive calendar of what’s happening at its affiliates; check it out here.
- You can also find more adventures right here, at GetGoingNC.com
GetHiking! this weekend
New Trail Hike: Pilot Creek Trail, Saturday, 9 a.m., Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle. Our GetHiking! Triad and Triangle groups are getting together to explore the recent handiwork of the Friends of Sauratown Mountains — the 3.3-mile Pilot Creek Trail, which explores the north flank of the mountain. Learn more and sign up to join us, here.