Maybe you’re new to the area, or maybe you’ve been hiking in the Triangle for a while and are ready to expand your horizons. With the Piedmont Explorer we take you to nine destinations, each no more than two hours away. Some you may have heard of but haven’t had a chance to visit. Some you may not know at all. All offer great hiking not far from the Triangle.
What: Nine monthly hikes from April through December 2022
When: Second Saturday of each month, April through December 2022. We meet at each location at 10 a.m.
Where: See dates and locations of all hikes, below.
Includes: Guided hike, comprehensive eguide for each hike, including custom map, route description, background on the area and other pertinent details for executing the hike.
Cost per hike: $85, $135 for couples and families
Hike package subscription: $540, $895
Join! Register today by going here for a Single subscription, here for a Couples/Family subscription. To attend by hike click on the link provided.
Where we hike
April (9th) Morrow Mountain State Park, Albemarle. 5.4 miles/Sugarloaf Mountain, Morrow Mountain trails. Two summits on this hike on the eastern fringe of the Uwharrie Mountains. We get to loosen our legs, before a quick climb followed by a ridgeline run to the top of Sugarloaf, followed by a quick descent through a tunnel of mountain laurel and holly. We settle in for some bottomland forest time before the climb up to great views to the south and west atop Morrow Mountain. Afterward, the park has paddle rentals on the Pee Dee River. To sign up for this hike only, go here.
May (14th) Raven Rock State Park, Lillington. 5.5 miles (with additional 2.6-mile round-trip option to the bluff) Campbell Creek Trail. Unlike Medoc Mountain, Raven Rock is a popular destination — at least its namesake bluff towering 150 feet over the Cape Fear River is. So don’t be discouraged if the parking lot at the Visitor Center is near full: most of the folks piling out of those cars won’t be headed down the Campbell Creek Trail, which heads west through wooded terrain that gently drops to the Cape Fear. Near the water, we’ll make a side trip to Lanier Falls, then return along Campbell Creek, a rocky waterway that’s more Southern Appalachian than Piedmont. To sign up for this hike only, go here.
June (11th) White Pines Nature Preserve, Pittsboro. 3 miles. We’ll go shorter since it’s August, though it may not feel like the dog days of summer where the Rocky and Deep rivers converge. Part of the reason the Triangle Land Conservancy purchased this property in 1987 was for the stand of white pines, a cool-weather tree on the preserve’s cooler north-facing slopes. Possibly the most scenic bang for the buck in the series. Single hike registration tba.
July (9th) Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury. 7 miles. Hanging Rock lies at the eastern end of the Sauratown Mountain Range, a subset of the Southern Appalachians that pierces the Piedmont. Though these mountains top out under 2,600 feet, they are every bit mountain, with elevation gains (about 1,800 feet), waterfalls and abundant rock outcrops offering stellar views of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests north into Virginia, and, on a clear day, to downtown Winston-Salem. Single hike registration tba.
August (13th) Medoc Mountain State Park, Hollister. 6 miles. Bluff, Stream, Dam Site and Discovery trails. Medoc Mountain is on the cusp of the coastal plain, but its demeanor is decidedly Piedmont. Low hills are divided by the clear Little Fishing Creek, which carves a steep bluff on the south side of the park. We’ll hike atop that bluff, through splashes of holly and mountain laurel and past the site of the first winery in the U.S. (the park gets its name from a province in the Bordeaux region of France known for its vineyards). Perhaps best of all, because of its off-the-beaten-path location it is one of the least-visited state parks in North Carolina. Single hike registration tba.
September (10th) Birkhead Mountain Wilderness / Uwharrie National Forest, Asheboro. 7 miles. We’ll say goodbye to summer on this loop hike formed by the Hannahs Creek, Robbins Branch and Birkhead Mountain trails. Nice ridge-line hiking, some good stretches along holly and mountain laurel enveloped streams, and the intrigue of a designated wilderness area interrupted only by the occasional — and subtle — signs of the human past. Single hike registration tba.
October (8th) Uwharrie National Forest, Asheboro. 6.3 miles. King Mountain/Little Long Mountain/Jumpin’ Off Rock. The ancient Uwharrie chain is the mountains in our midst. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the Uwharries are thought to have risen 20,000 feet above sea level; today, the high point is 1,188-foot High Rock Mountain. Still, they are mountains in the Piedmont, where surrounding elevations are in the 300- to 400-foot range: in spots the elevation change will make you think you’re in the Southern Appalachians. On this hike, we’ll top the highest point on the Uwharrie Trail, 1,022-foot King Mountain, as well as Little Long Mountain, the one spot where a mountain-top bald offers sweeping views of the entire range. Single hike registration tba.
November (12th) Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve, Southern Pines. 3.7 miles. We’ll hike the perimeter of this park, utilizeing the Lighter Stump, Pine Island, Holly Road Gum Swamp and Pine Barrens trail to explore some of the largest remaining stands of long leaf pines in the Southeast. Afterword (or before), check out downtown Southern Pines, which has several rewarding places to eat. Single hike registration tba.
December (10th) Merchants Millpond State Park. 7 miles. Merchants Millpond serves as a great introduction to winter hiking at the coast and in the coastal plain. Why winter hiking? Because the flying and slithering creatures that make a warm-weather visit intolerable, are kept at bay by the cold weather, allowing access the the fringe of a bald cypress swamp and passage through mature forests of beech and pine. More than 200 species of birds call the park home, as do mink, river otter, bobcats and a menagerie of critters. Single hike registration tba.