Temperatures in the 70s, mostly sunny skies — sounds like a weekend to get out and explore in the GetOut! universe. Some options for your adventure consideration:
High 5 @ Hanging Rock, Saturday, beginning at 7 a.m., Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury. Our friends with the Friends of Sauratown Mountains do a great job supporting both Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock state parks, the west and east endpoints, respectively, of the Sauratown Mountain range. They support the parks in a variety of ways, one of which is by funding some of the smaller park projects that might not otherwise get done. Where do they get their money? you ask. From events like High 5 @ Hanging Rock. The goal of High 5 is to hike all 5 of Hanging Rock’s key high points: Moore’s Knob, Cooks Wall, Hanging Rock, Wolf Rock and House Rock. Complete the circuit and get a patch! There are two rest stops along the route, foot trucks at the finish (get a $5 food truck voucher upon registration). Cost is $40, which, again, will largely go to benefit the parks. Learn more and sign up here.read more
Finally, some fall-like weather! The weather unpleasantness that blew through late in the week has been replaced by seasonable temperatures. Meaning if you head out for a hike early Saturday, you better be packing fleece — it could be in the upper 40s.
That said, a few thoughts on the weekend ahead:
GetHiking! Triangle Fleece Hike at Horton Grove, Saturday, 9 a.m. Horton Grove Nature Preserve, Bahama. We aren’t about to pass on our first opportunity of the fall to hike in fleece! Expect a temperature around 50 when we hit the trail on this 6-mile hike. Starting from the old white barn on Jock Road we’ll hike a loop composed of the Jordan, Walker, Peaks, Holman, Hart and Justice trails. Because of its elevation and location on a high plateau, it should be comparatively immune from the drenching rains of Michael. Learn more and sign up here.
Big Canoe Program, Saturday, 2 p.m., Merchants Millpond State Park, Gatesville (northeast corner of the state). We’re intrigued by the simple program description: “Come to the visitors center at 2:00 p.m. for a canoe program in large canoes.” Large canoes … hmm. It’s free, and while these are large canoes, seating is limited, preregistration is required, by calling 252.357.1191. Not much more information here.
=&2=&, Sunday, 1 p.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap (west of Elkin, which is northwest of Winston-Salem. If you’re new to hiking, this is a great starter hike: from the Lower Trailhead Parking Area, it’s a short hike (a half mile overall) to the Hutchinson Homestread, long enough to see some emerging fall color, learn about the homestead, and see the massive moon face of Stone Mountain (and likely some climbers working their way up the smooth face). Moreyinfo here.
You can find more opportunities this weekend here:
North Carolina State Parks have a variety of adventures planned for the weekend. Check those options here.
North Carolina Environmental Education Centers has an extensive calendar of what’s happening at its affiliates; check it out here.
The first time I went to Umstead State Park in Raleigh was in January 1992. It was a bluebird day, the temperature around 30. I’d intended to hike for about an hour; I was there for four. I was smitten.
I’ve hiked, biked or run at Umstead more than 2,000 times since. While I have flash memories of several of those visits, it’s that first day in the park that bubbles to the top. That sense of discovery, the notion that a playground so vast could be right in my own backyard still makes me smile.
It’s a feeling we’ve all had, the feeling that makes us open to exploring new places. It’s a feeling we hope to share with you through our new Piedmont Explorer hiking series.
Piedmont Explorer is a series of monthly hikes designed to take you to places you may not have hiked — yet.
Medoc Mountain State Park, for instance. This 2,300-acre park is less than an hour and a half from the Triangle, and it’s got just about everything you look for in a hike. Its 10 miles of hiking trail (with another 10 miles of multiuse trail) wanders along the banks of Little Fishing Creek, tops a bluff 80 feet above the creek, climbs 160 vertical feet up mighty Mount Medoc (325 feet), and takes you back in time, to a Boy Scout camp dating to the 1920s, as well as through the first attempt in the New World at developing a vineyard (the park is named for the Medoc province in France, located in the Bordeaux wine country).
We’ll be hiking Medoc Mountain this Saturday. Here’s where else we’ll be hiking the first half of the year:
Raven Rock State Park along the Cape Fear River near Lillington (February)
Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center in the coastal plain just east of I-95 (March)
Hanging Rock State Park north of Greensboro (April)
Uwharrie National Forest southwest of Asheboro (May)
Little River Regional Park on the Durham/Orange county line (June)
Saturday is National Trails Day, a day set aside for us to appreciate the more than 200,000 miles of trail in the U.S. Officially, National Trails Day dates back to 1991, when the American Hiking Society deemed that one day a year be set aside to honor our trails; the first NTD, however, didn’t occur until June 5, 1993.
Over the years, we’ve increasingly embraced the concept of NTD. Last year, more than 2,000 events were held drawing more than 157,000 participants. Some events are workdays, intended to spruce up existing trails or blaze new ones. Other events celebrate our trails by encouraging us to use them, while still others have more of an educational bent.
The 25 NTD events scheduled in North Carolina for this Saturday reflect that mix.
In the Triangle, for instance, the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail will work to link 60 miles of MST along Falls Lake with bout 10 miles along the Eno River (see No. 2 under Piedmont). Likewise, NTD volunteers will work to build the new Beech Tree Trail at Elk Knob State Park (No. 3, Mountains) and to add to the ambitious 12-mile Trombatore Trail which will link various features in the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge (No. 9, Mountains).
They’ll be doing trail maintenance at Hanging Rock State Park (No. 12, Piedmont) and on the Carolina Thread Trail (Nos. 10, 11, Piedmont); they’ll be dedicating new trail in Cary (No. 3, Piedmont) and in Panthertown Valley (No. 5, Mountains); and they’ll be celebrating in all kinds of ways in Greensboro (No. 4).
We’ve compiled a list of the 25 National Trails Day events reported to the American Hiking Society. (We suspect there are more; if you know of one, let us know about it and we’ll add it to the list.) Scope out our list, then plan to show your favorite trail some love on Saturday.
1. One Step at a Time – Trail Work Day
Organizer: Stone Mountain State Park
Location: Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap
When: Saturday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Workday on the Loop and Wolf Rock trails, plus a kid’s activity.
More info: email@example.com, 336.957.8185.
2. Appalachian Trail Hike: Winding Stair Gap to Wayah Gapread more
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.
Today’s 90-Second Escape: Winter Water.
One thing I’ll miss about being in the woods in winter as the season starts packing to leave: Winter water. While the rest of the forest throttles down — the trees stop photosynthesizing and drop their leaves, critters spend more time in their dens, birds head elsewhere — for creeks, streams, rivers its business as usual. Even more so during the typically wetter winter months here in the Piedmont. And what great companions these waterways prove to be in the otherwise quiet forest, carrying on a constant chatter.