GetBackpacking! Weekend Quick Escape: Doughton Park


Our Weekend Quick Escape to Doughton Park is the perfect marriage of backpacking and hiking, with a one-mile hike Friday night to basecamp, followed by two days of fabulous fall hiking in day pack.

Dates: Friday, Oct. 22 to Sunday, Oct. 24.

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Bemoaning the fact you haven’t been able to backpack much this year and worry that it’s too late to go now — especially if you’re not used to hiking with 30 pounds on your back? Well, bemoan no more: our series of fourth-quarter Weekend Quick Escapes returns in 2020, giving you the opportunity to hike a short distance (a mile, in this case), set up camp, and enjoy a weekend of daypack hiking!
Here’s the deal:
* We leave at 5 p.m. Friday, so you shouldn’t have to take time off from work.
* We drive to a trailhead that’s no more than two and a half hours away.
* We hike to a campsite that’s anywhere from a half mile to less than 3. (We’ll be to camp no later than 8 p.m.).
* We set up camp (yes, in the dark; it’s a good skill to have, and easier to learn in a group).
* Saturday, we have the entire day to hike. We’ll hike in day packs, returning to our basecamp at day’s end. Our Saturday hikes will be from 10 to 15 miles.
* Sunday, we do one more short hike before heading home. You’ll be home mid to late afternoon.

It’s the perfect option for backpackers who thought they didn’t have time for a fall backpack trip.

Our October trip: Doughton Park. Here’s how the weekend will unfold:

Friday, Oct. 22: We’ll meet at the trailhead to the primitive camping area at Longbottom Road at the base of Doughton Park around 7:30 p.m., then hike in a mile and a half on an old roadbed and set up camp.

Saturday, Oct. 23: In day packs, we’ll do a 15.5-mile loop, heading out (and up) on the Grassy Gap Fire Road 3.5 miles to the ridge. There we’ll pick up the Bluff Mountain Trail (aka Mountains-to-Sea Trail) for a hike that climbs 2.5 miles to Bluff Mountain, then spends 4 miles mostly in mountaintop meadows with sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We’ll take a short detour to the Wildcat Rocks overlook to check out the Caudill Cabin way below, then continue on to the Brinegar Cabin, before returning to camp via the Cedar Ridge Trail. One of North Carolina’s most classic hikes.

Sunday, Oct. 24: Hike up Basin Creek Trail to the Caudill Cabin (3.3 miles), return to camp (3.3 miles), break camp, and be on the road by 2 p.m.

Cost: $105

Includes: Camping, eguide for the trip detailing all hikes (including a custom map and elevation profile), tips on what to bring and how to dress, information on the terrain we’ll be exploring. We’ll also have a Zoom Trip Planning meeting on Monday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m. to go over the hike, and provide tips on how to prep for a quick Friday escape, how to hike and set up camp at night, and any unique challenges this trip may present.

Hike is limited to 10 participants.


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