Piedmont: 5 Long Hikes for Getting in Shape


Looking for longer hikes to start building your hiking legs for the season? Our GetHiking! Guide to 5 Longer Hikes for Getting in Shape includes 5 hikes along with all the information you need to find them and hike them.


It’s early in the season and you have high hopes for accomplishing some longer, more challenging hikes. You’ve been rambling on the local greenway, doing a nature trail or two. Now, it’s time to get serious, to start doing some hikes of 5 miles, maybe a little more.

Our guide includes 5 hikes especially well-suited to meet your needs:

  1. Horton Grove Nature Preserve, Bahama (north of Durham). A classic for a first long hike of the season because, with 7 connecting trails comprising 8 miles of hiking, if you get out there and discover you aren’t ready for a 5-miler, you can cut it short. Likewise, if you’re feeling strong after 5, why not hike every trail? Rolling terrain with no heartbreaking climbs.
  2. Bunter-Falls of Neuse Game Lands, Bahama. Flat, no crowds. That should be enough — but we’ll give you a smidge more. The hiking here is open, on gravel access roads that pass meadows and impoundment ponds designed to attract wildlife. Especially good on cool days (the exposure), especially good on Sundays (these are gamelands; currently, there is no hunting on Sundays — or from Memorial Day through Labor Day). And again, flat and no crowds. Our guide highlights a 4.5-mile hike.
  3. Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Falls Lake: Day-hike Section L, Durham. This 3.2-mile stretch of the MST (6.4 miles out and back) is among the lesser-traveled stretches of the MST along Falls Lake in the Triangle. Why? Maybe because of its brief encounters with the lake? That’s the only reason we can figure; this gently rolling trail through maturing hardwoods is perfect for losing yourself (spiritually, not physically) in the woods.
  4. Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Falls Lake: Day-hike Section P, Durham. Another great hike along Falls Lake that flies under the radar. From the Hickory Hill Boat Ramp head east through mostly hardwoods at first, mostly pine (in a pine savannah-type environment) after that. Flat, with foot-friendly trail tread throughout.
  5. Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Falls Lake: Day-hike Section S, Durham. Possibly our favorite stretch of the MST along Falls Lake, this 4.8-mile stretch starts and ends on Red Mill Road, making for a quick shuttle — or a vigorous 9.6-mile out-and-back. Lots of variety as the trail passes through wetlands, along meadows, through bottomland woods, along railroad tracks, past signs of the area’s pre-reservoir human past.

Each guide includes:

  • Route description
  • Custom map
  • Pertinent details (how to get there, facilities at the trailhead)
  • Hike overview
  • Video introduction to the venue



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