Over the past week, the U.S. Forest Service has announced plans for numerous prescribed burns in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. We share this information for two reasons:
1. Prescribed burns: what and why?
According to the Forest Service, “Prescribed burning is an important and versatile forest management tool that can mimic natural fire disturbances and reduce underbrush and flammable vegetation, which is key to limiting wildfire risk.” Before we started building vacation homes and resorts in the mountains, fire was allowed to run its natural course and do its thing. Now, for instance, when lightening strikes and ignites a fire, the reaction is to snuff it out immediately, lest it damage nearby developments. The most obvious ramification of this practice is that downfall accumulates and provides a dangerous source of fuel for what can evolve into a quickly spreading inferno.read more
When I moved to the Raleigh area at the beginning of 1992, I spent a lot of time at Umstead State Park. It was a 10-minute drive, you could hike and mountain bike, and, lucky me, I happened to live on what I considered to be the most interesting side of the park, the Reedy Creek side, off I-40. Access to the mountain bike/equestrian trails was easier, you could pick up two long trails from the parking lot, even the physical facilities — the picnic shelters, the restrooms — seemed more inviting.read more
Last year around this time, I was licking my chops over a great lineup of backpack trips I intended to take, including four short thru-hikes in the state. I even managed to get in two trips (including one of the thru-hikes) before I was forced to scrap my plans for the pandemic.read more
The weekend forecast: it’s another good one, another guaranteed to have the new converts to hiking flooding the trails and, in some cases, causing our state parks to restrict access. The solution: hike where they ain’t.
Here are five shorter hikes that are less well-known, less apt to be crowded this fine September weekend. We provide a brief description, then a link to where you can find more info on hiking it yourself.read more