Tag Archives: Medoc Mountain State Park

GetOut! Your Friday Nudge for Weekend Adventure

A person could get used to this weather, no? Temperatures in the 70s, sunny skies, crisp, dry air … . Just the incentive for getting out in the wild. We have some thoughts on the subject of where you might explore this weekend — and suggestions for where you can find more options. Just be sure to get out and enjoy! read more

Piedmont Explorer: the thrill of discovery

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)
  • read more

    This weekend: Trick or treat? Pedal or paddle?


    There are lots of ways to celebrate Halloween this Saturday. You can go the traditional route by dressing as your favorite explorer (Alferd Packer?) and shaking down the neighbors. Or, you can dress up for a paddle race at the coast or a bike ride (or two) in the mountains.


    Have you been wondering how to combine your love of music, your paddling and Halloween? Probably not. But if you have, consider Saturday’s Spooky Sound PaddleFest 2015 in Wrightsville Beach.

    Music: the event is sponsored by, and benefits, the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra. Paddling: the event itself is a non-competitive paddle open to canoes, kayaks, standup paddleboards and “other non-motorized craft,” starting and ending at Wrightsville SUP, with a turnaround at Palm Tree Island. Halloween: it’s on Halloween, with awards for best costume and strangest craft. If living to you requires a paddle in your hands, then this looks like a good way to launch your Halloween celebration.

    Logistics: Spooky Sound PaddleFest 2015, Saturday, Nov. 31, 10 a.m. (check-in begins at 8:30 a.m., clinics and demonstrations at 9 a.m.), Wrightsville SUP, 96 W. Salisbury St., Wrightsville Beach. $15 ($5 for raffle tickets).  More info here.

    Saturday forecast: Sunny, high of 69.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: 5th Annual Surf to Sound Challenge, Nov. 6-8, Blockade Runner, Wrightsville beach. More info here.


    Another thought you may or may not have pondered: as you’re walking down a trail, have you ever wondered about all the living creatures, flora and fauna, visible and non, around you?

    Saturday at Medoc Mountain State Park near Hollister (which is northeast of Louisburg, which is not far from Wake Forest) follow a ranger on a 1.5-mile hike along Bear Swamp Creek to learn what’s in the creek, what’s along the creek, and what’s all the way up to the adjoining ridge … . Really, to learn about everything around you. Or as much as you can learn in an hour or so.

    Logistics: Bear Creek Swamp Hike, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2 p.m., Medoc Mountain State Park, Hollister. Free. More info here.

    Saturday forecast: Sunny, high of 64.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: Eno Quarry History Hike, Eno River State Park, Saturday, Dec. 26. More info here.


    Or, perhaps you’ve wondered if it’s possible to co-celebrate cycling and Halloween. Yes, Casper, it is possible. If you don’t mind heading to the high country.

    The Asheville area has two such celebrations Saturday. Saturday morning, there’s the Bookwalter Binge Charity Gran Fondo in Black Mountain, with ride options of 30, 62 and 83 miles, while Saturday evening it’s the 9th Annual Asheville on Bikes Pumpkin Pedaller, a 9-mile ride in downtown.

    Intrigued? Learn more in this article by Karen Chavez of the Asheville Citizen Times.

    Logistics: Both rides are Saturday; again, for details consult Karen’s article, here.

    Saturday forecast: Partly sunny with a high of 62, dipping down to 50 for the evening Pumpkin Pedaller

    * * *

    Looking ahead: Naturalist Niche: Survival Skills, Saturday, Nov. 21, Chimney Rock State Park. More info here.

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    Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below.


    Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

    Coastal Guide
    Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

    Crystal Cost Tourism Authority read more

    This weekend: Several ways to enjoy two sunny days

    Merchants Millpond (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)
    Merchants Millpond (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)

    The forecast calls for seasonal, sunny weather over the next several days, weather that won’t be around for long and that’s ideal for certain types of adventure. Paddling at the coast, for instance. Or hiking a mountain trail. Or discovering a place that you’ll want to discover again and again.


    We’ve been working with our friends at Great Outdoor Provision Co. on a series of adventures to to help you Save Your Summer, in the event summer hasn’t lived up to your adventure expectations. In the category of summer paddling adventures, one of our five nominations is canoeing the blackwater swamp at Merchants Millpond State Park.

    It is, we contend, one of the easiest, most accessible, and economical ways to explore a blackwater swamp. This Sunday, it gets even easier, accessible and economic when a ranger leads “Canoe the Pond,” an exploration of the 760-acre millpond. No need to follow the trail markers (just follow the ranger), no need to plunk down the already minimal $5 canoe rental fee (the trip is free), and no head-scratching over the abundant flora and fauna you’ll be seeing — the ranger will fill you in.

    One easy adventure.

    Logistics: Sunday, 1 p.m., Merchants Millpond State Park, Gatesville. Free, but space is limited; register to secure a spot: 252.357.1191.

    Saturday forecast: High of 87 and sunny.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: Explore the marsh and sound at Hammocks Beach State Park on a free kayak trip on Friday, Sept. 11. More info here.


    Medoc Mountain … Medoc Mountain … Medoc Mountain …

    You can almost hear the gears grinding as the person chews on the words. Nope, they finally answer, can’t say I’ve ever heard of it.

    Which is too bad and somewhat amazing. Medoc Mountain State Park sits an hour and a half northeast of the Triangle and offers 2,300 acres of exploring in forest on the eastern edge of the Piedmont. The home of the New World’s first attempt at winemaking, a long-abandoned Boy Scout camp, and a mountain range that once reached to the sky but now tops out at 325 feet, the park offers lots of opportunity to explore.

    Those opportunities are the focus of a ranger-led hike on the park’s Discovery Loop Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. Spend an hour or so learning about the park, then explore on your own.

    Logistics: Saturday, Aug. 22, 2 p.m., Medoc Mountain State Park, Hollister. Free, but registration requested, by calling 252.586.6588.

    Saturday forecast: Sunny, high of 87.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: How well do you know the ecology of the sandhills region? You’ll know it a lot better if you plan to attend the “Introduction to Weymouth Woods and the Ecology of the Sandhills” presentation at Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve on Sunday, Sept. 6. More info here.


    Ever see a guided hike and think, “Man, I don’t think I can hike that far”? Or, conversely, “I don’t know if I want to drive that far for a hike that short”?

    There’s no such problem with Saturday’s G.R.E.E.N. Day hikes at Grandfather Mountain, lead by the Boone-based Chargers and Re-Chargers hiking club. The four hikes are all on the Profile Trail, snaking up the northwest flank of Grandfather Mountain, but are of varying lengths. At 8 a.m., hikes of 4.5, 5.5 and 7 miles will set off up the trail, with destinations of Profile View, Shanty Springs and Calloway Peak, respectively. At 9 a.m., there’s a 2-mile hike that sticks to the  towering hardwood forest at the base of Grandfather.

    Lots of options, no excuses.

    Logistics: Saturday, Aug. 22, 8 and 9 a.m., Grandfather Mountain State Park, Linville. Shuttle provided from the Lowes Foods at NC 105 and NC 184 in Banner Elk. For more information, visit the Grandfather Mountain State Park website and click on “Events / Free Programs.”

    Saturday forecast read more

    This weekend: Get schooled

    Photo courtesy Cold Stone Classic
    Photo courtesy Cold Stroke Classic

    It’s a new year and time to branch out, to learn a new sport, learn about a new place to explore.


    Looking for new adventure in 2015? Check out the Cold Stroke Classic Saturday in Wrightsville Beach.

    Now in its seventh year, the classic is a stand-up paddlboard competition that appeals both to the experienced SUPer with a 7-mile race and the beginner, with a course half as long. Cash awards in the elite category, $5,000 in prizes for the beginners. Don’t have a board? No problem; check out the used gear swap on Friday. Don’t have a wetsuit? That’s a problem.

    Logistics: Saturday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m., registration fee ranges from $25 to $75, depending upon age and race category. More info here.

    Saturday forecast: Sunny, high of 52.


    Looking for a new place to explore in 2015? Our guess is that Medoc Mountain State Park may have a spot on your “new adventures for a new year” list.

    Medoc Mountain sits off the beaten path about an hour and a half northeast of the Triangle. Ten miles of trail explore the park, which, despite sitting on the cusp of the Piedmont and coastal plain, has more of a rolling hills feel. A nice escape, especially since few people seem to know about the park, and an escape you can learn more about Saturday, when a park ranger hosts “Discover Medoc Mountain State Park” at 2 p.m. Learn about the park, take a short hike with the ranger, then explore on your own.

    Logistics: Saturday, Jan. 17, 2 p.m., Medoc Mountain State Park, Hollister. The program is free, but preregistration is requested, by calling 252.586.6588.

    Saturday forecast: Sunny with a high of 47.


    Looking to learn something? In 2016, the USA Cycling Cyclo-Cross National Championships come to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. This weekend, you can preview the course the country’s top racers will ride at the North Carolina Cyclo-Cross Series Finale.

    Tickets to the two-day event are $11, which will not only let you see the series’ top riders in action, it will, for the uninitiated, be a chance to check out the sport in person. More than 300 riders are expected to participate.

    If you are among the uninitiated, cyclo-cross is a European import that marries road racing with mountain biking. Cross bikes more resemble road bikes, albeit with knobby tires. There’s a steeplechase element to the sport, with riders dismounting to navigate the gnarliest obstacles.

    Logistics: Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 17-18, Biltmore Estate, Asheville. Tickets are $11. More info here.

    Weekend forecast: Saturday is sunny with a high of 49, Sunday could be interesting for spectating with snow in the forecast.

    * * *

    Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below.


    Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

    Coastal Guide
    Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

    Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
    Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

    Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

    North Carolina Coast Host
    Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

    This Week Magazine
    Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).


    Asheville Citizen-Times read more