One of the reasons we like to do a GetBackpacking! trip to the Shining Rock area in April is because we get to revisit spring. Traditionally, we begin at the Shining Rock Creek/Big East Fork Trailhead off US 276, at an elevation of about 3,100 feet. Here, spring is well underway, with mid-spring wildflowers in bloom, the trees essentially leafed out. But as we climb, as we gain more than 2,400 vertical feet on a 4.3-mile climb up to Shining Rock Gap, time begins to reverse itself. Trees just beginning to sprout leaves, wildflowers of the early season sort. By the time we reach the top, the trees are winter-bare, first-responder bluets dominate the wildflower scene. A visit to Shining Rock is like going back in time.
In the last two weeks, the forest floor has, finally, come alive with splashes of color: carpets of delicate white spring beauties, patches of starburst white chickweed, bursts of purple periwinkle, flashes of yellow green-and-gold.
The spring show is in its prime, but it won’t last forever. Here are five spots where you’re likely to find the season in full flower for at least the next couple of weeks (longer in the high country).
We’ve got hikes in the Piedmont (along the Eno River) and in the mountains (up Little Pisgah Mountain), and a hike, of sorts (walking on water counts, right?) at the coast.
The Cold Stroke Classic is on our “Pushing-The-Limits-But-Certainly-Doable” lifetime achievement list. Now in its sixth year, Cold Stroke lets amateurs and more competitive types compete in standup paddleboard racing, on protected waterways, at the coast, in winter. There’s a 3.5-mile course for more recreational types, a 7-mile course for the “elite.”