We’ve been thinking about some of our favorite mountain places to explore come fall, and realized that there are a variety of ways we love to explore them. There’s the day hike: spending a day to see as much as possible, then heading home. There’s the basecamp trip: Either establishing camp in a campground or hiking in a short distance in full pack and setting up camp, then doing day hikes from there. Or, there’s the point-to-point backpack trip. Since we all explore differently, we thought, why not look at all three options? So today, we do.
In case you haven’t seen the forecast for this weekend, fall finally arrives. After summer’s last stand (hopefully), we’re looking at daytime temperatures in the 70s in the Piedmont, in the 60s in the mountains, ideal for finally getting out and enjoying some fall hiking.
We’re not going to let a little forecast ice and snow keep us from having a good time this weekend. Or at least planning to have a good time this weekend.
Coast: 8th Annual Cold Stroke Classic
Head on down to Wrightsville Beach this weekend to participate in (or watch) the 8th Annual Cold Stroke Classic! Lots of standup paddleboarders competing in different divisions: based on age, gender and height. Friday, there is a pig pickin’ and music fest, followed by the races on Saturday. Registration ends this Friday!
There are two races, a 3.5-mile recreational race, and a 7-mile elite race with cash prizes for winners! All racers must bring a USCG approved PFD in order to participate. Registration fees differ based on category.
Weather policy: there will be a weather call Saturday morning. Canceling will occur only if paddling conditions are unsafe.
Vital stats: 8th Annual Cold Stroke Classic, Friday and Saturday, more information here or here. ColdStroke@coastalurge.com or head here.
Saturday forecast: High of 42, chance of rain. Might wear a wetsuit. Or a dry suit.
Looking ahead: Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon Madness; marathon, half-marathon, marathon relay, 5K, 1-mile run, March 18-20. More info here.
Piedmont: Mount Rogers Hike
Weather permitting, this Saturday the Piedmont Hiking and Outing Club is hiking the Mount Rogers Trail to intersect with the Appalachian Trail, Northbound, in the popular Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in southwestern Virginia. Before signing on, the club advises that you be prepared for cold temperatures, high winds and possibly deep snow!
If you can’t make this hike, the club is one of the more active outdoors groups in the region. Check their website for a schedule of activities; individual membership fees are $20 per year, family memberships are $30 annually.
Vital stats: Saturday, Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, visit the club’s website for meeting time and additional information.
Saturday forecast: Snow starting Thursday evening will begin to taper Saturday morning, with accumulations of 18 inches expected. High temp: 30.
Looking ahead: Nature’s Notebook Hike, Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve, Saturday, Feb. 6. More info here.
Mountains: Icycle Mountain Bike Event
“The most fun you’ll ever have on two wheels, rain, sleet, snow or sunshine,” promises the event’s sponsors. Fontana Village Resort hosts the Icycle Mountain Bike Event Saturday. Cross-country races begin at 11 a.m. and go late into the night. If you’re looking for a challenging winter mountain bike race, the IBM should do it.
Registration takes place in advance and race day; fees vary, see website.
Vital stats: Icycle Mountain Bike Event, Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. into the night, Fontana Village Resort, Fontana Dam. More info here.
Saturday forecast: Snow throughout the day, high of 32.
Looking ahead: Swannanoa Rim Hike #3: Cherokee Boundary, March 19, 4.5-mile hike nearly all off trail. 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.
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
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).
In 2015, we launched our GetHiking! Classic Hikes program with GetHiking! North Carolina’s Classic Hikes. Over the course of the year we hiked a dozen of North Carolina’s most notable areas: Shining Rock, Mount Mitchell and the Black Mountains, Panthertown Valley, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and the Appalachian Trail, to name a few.
Now, if there were only a dozen Classic Hikes in North Carolina, we could declare mission accomplished and be done. In fact, there are so many more than a dozen Classics in the state (I’ve written a book that documents 100, “100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina,” Mountaineers Books). And there are so many more Classics throughout the Southeast.
Thus, our mission continues in 2016, with the expanded GetHiking! The Southeast’s Classic Hikes series.
First, we’re not abandoning North Carolina. In fact, we’re only adding two out-of-state hikes in 2016, both in Virginia (a stretch of the Appalachian Trail near Lynchburg and the Grayson Highlands/Mount Rogers area). And while we are repeating two hikes from 2015 (Panthertown Valley, by popular demand, and Doughton Park, because it’s a good late winter mountain hike), we’ve got a North Carolina lineup that will expose you to even more great hiking than you thought possible. We’ll get to a full calendar of hikes, with descriptions, in a sec. But first … .
Why join this fee-based hiking program? We had about 90 hikers participate in the 2015 program, all with their own personal motivation. Basically, though, they boiled down to two key motivators: the challenge, and the chance to explore more of the state’s wild areas.
Right about now you’re likely thinking what most people are thinking on the cusp of a new year: how can I be more active in the year ahead? Hiking is a great option. First, just about anyone can do it, and unlike many other “active” options, it’s something you can be active at late into life. (Of our 90 or so 2015 hikers, at least half are over 50.) Hiking requires some basic equipment: hiking boots/shoes, good socks, a day pack, for starters. But once you’ve got the basics, it’s cheap fun: transportation and food are your key expenses.
If you’re new to hiking, you might be intimidated by the “Classic” designation, equating “Classic” with epic and visions of a death march rather than an enjoyable day in the woods. First, our hikes are actually two hikes, a longer hike and a shorter hike. For instance, our first hike, on the Neusiok Trail in the coastal Croatan National Forest, gives you the option of hiking the entire 20.4-mile trail, or a 6-mile stretch. Start with the shorter options, maybe you’ll want to go longer after three or four hikes. Plus, the monthly hikes are good incentive to do shorter, local hikes in the interim.
If you’re looking for an activity you can embrace for the longterm and one that doesn’t seem like work (as is often the case with a traditional “workout,” hiking is a good option. Likewise, if you seek a sense of accomplishment and reward, you’ll find it in a hike (just ask the folks who did our 13.4-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail north of Carvers Gap in September).
And if you’re worried about being left in the woods, don’t be. Our hikes are led from the rear, guaranteeing that no one, not the slowest hiker, is dropped. This approach benefits our more experienced hikers as well; with direction supplied before the hike, they become more confident in their ability to navigate in the backcountry.
Explore New Trails
Even if you’re an avid hiker, how many of the state’s — and region’s — trails have you hiked? Or are even familiar with? Drop down and take a look at our lineup for 2016: if you’ve hiked half of these trails, you’re doing pretty good. Odds are there are one or two you haven’t heard of.
We aim to expose you to the wealth of hiking opportunities in the Southeast. Take the October hike. Perhaps you’ve heard of, even hiked in the Shining Rock area. But
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 or slide show 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: Mount Rogers
So many new places to explore, so little time to revisit the places we’ve explored in the past.
Mount Rogers (the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Grayson Highlands State Park) is one of those places you just can’t get to often enough. It’s been on the list for a return visit for well over a year — and there it remains, on a list.
We pulled the following video from the archive, in hopes that it will keep us vicariously content for now. Hopefully, this fall … .
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