In today’s GetHiking! Southeast Podcast we scout a potential graduation trip route for our first GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking class in Virginia. In the podcast, we explain what, in our opinion, makes for a good weekend trip for first-time backpackers. That is, a trip that will get them hooked on backcountry camping.
Wondering when your favorite seasonal campground or roadside attraction in the National Parks will reopen? We have some dates:
Blue Ridge Parkway
- Price Park Campground at MP 297: April 2-Oct. 31
- Linville Falls at MP 314: April 2-Oct. 31
- Crabtree Falls at MP 339: May 28-Oct. 31
- Mount Pisgah at MP 408.8: May 28-Oct. 31
- Moses Cone Manor House at MP 294: April 15
- Linville Falls at MP 316: April 30.
- N. Museum of Minerals at MP 330: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. through April.
- Craggy Gardens at MP 364.5: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. starting April 17.
- Waterrock Knob at MP 451: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. starting April 17.
Shenandoah National Park
- March 25: Lewis Mountain Campground (mile 57.5)
- March 26: Big Meadows Campground (mile 51.2)
- May 5: Mathews Arm Campground (mile 22.2), Loft Mountain Campground (mile 79.5), and Dundo Group Campground (mile 83.7)
- Picnic Grounds will open on the following schedule:
- March 25: Lewis Mountain Picnic Grounds (mile 57.5)
- March 26: Big Meadows Picnic Grounds (mile 51.2)
- Open year round: Dickey Ridge Picnic Grounds (mile 4.7), Elkwallow Picnic Grounds (mile 24.1), Pinnacles Picnic Grounds (mile 36.7), South River Picnic Grounds (mile 62.8), and Dundo Picnic Grounds (mile 83.7)
- Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.6 Skyline Drive): open Fridays through Tuesdays, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays), No indoor exhibits or films.
- Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51 Skyline Drive)
- Open 7 days a week, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., No indoor exhibits or films.
The restaurants, lodges, and associated facilities operated by the park concessioner, Delaware North, open as follows:
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.
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.
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.