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.
Throughout much of North Carolina, the forecast through New Year’s Day couldn’t be much better for one thing.
Taking a hike.
In the Triangle, for instance, we’re looking at daytime highs in the mid- to upper 40s and sunny to partly sunny skies through New Year’s Day. Good timing since most of you likely have some time off over this same time period. Since the weather today is universally ugly and thus ideal for planning, we offer 10 hikes especially well-suited for this time of year. Look ‘em over, consult the listed sources for additional information. If nothing tickles your hiking fancy, head over to our sister site, NCHikes.com, for more options.
90 Second Escape: The Winter Woods
Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb.