Tag Archives: Occoneechee Mountain

Getout! Your Friday Nudge for Weekend Adventure

We live less than a half mile from Occoneechee State Natural Area in Hillsborough, and I either hike or run there a couple times a week. Though I generally like to mix things up on trail I do regularly — hiking clockwise one time, counterclockwise the next — I have the same routine at Occoneechee: I enter from the neighborhood entrance off Eno Mountain Road, then take the Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail, Overlook Trail and Chestnut Trail back to the Loop Trail, which brings me around the west side of the mountain to the Eno River for the hike’s highlight: a 75-yard stretch beneath a north-facing cliff that is perpetually green. Green with holly and ferns, which are common in these parts, but also with mountain laurel, with rhododendron, and even a narrow carpet of galax. For this brief stretch the trail leaves the Piedmont for the Southern Appalachians. read more

GetOut! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

Don’t let the weather rain on your weekend adventure parade. Grab a rain jacket (or a big trash bag) and venture out for some good, wet, fun! Such as:

Occoneechee Geology Hike, Saturday, 2 p.m., Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough. One of the reasons we like this hike for this weekend is that the trail is generally high up and less susceptible to standing water (except for portions along the Eno River, which will be under water). Quarrying operations from years ago leave the north face of the mountain exposed, making it ideal for a geological dissection. Also: the hike is lead by a geologist. About 1.5 miles of moderately difficult hiking. Free, but registration required, by calling 919.383.1686. More info here. read more

GetOut! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

It’s November, and Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend (Sunday at 2 a.m.). Make the most of the last day of extended afternoon sunlight by taking in:

=&0=&, Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap, Saturday, 6:30 p.m. A park ranger plays the role of Dick Clark rocking in Standard Time with this countdown to the stars — literally, with the aid of the Forsyth Astronomy Club. More info here.

=&1=&, Crowders Mountain State Park, Kings Mountain, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Educational events, food trucks, live music — and, presumably, fur, fangs and feathers — to help mark the passage of another fabulous season of DST. More info here.

=&2=&, Occoneechee Mountain State Park, Hillsborough, Saturday, 10:30 a.m. What’s a “monadnuck”? Find out as you get the opportunity to walk around one at mighty Occoneechee, at 867 feet the tallest mountain from Hillsborough to the coast. More info 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.
  • You can also find more adventures right here, at GetGoingNC.com.
  • read more

    Hiking out my backdoor

    Fuel up before hitting the trail?

    For a long time, I’ve wanted a place with trail out my backdoor. Saturday, I discovered I’m as close to that goal as I’ve ever been: I just need to walk past a Circle K, a McDonald’s and a Holiday Inn Express; commit minor trespassing (possibly); walk briefly along a busy, shoulder-less two-lane road (and under a major interstate). Fifteen minutes and I’m there.

    In my fantasy, my backdoor trail supported a good day hike — maybe 10 miles of trail, or so. In reality, my trail is the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and it goes nearly 1,200 miles, or someday will, west to Clingman’s Dome on the Tennessee line, east to Jockey’s Ridge, where North Carolina cedes to the Atlantic. I was tipped off to the connection shortly after we relocated to Hillsborough in September. I mentioned the proximity of Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area to our leasing agent, speculating it was maybe a 10-minute drive. “Oh,” she said, “I think one of our maintenance guys found a trail leading most of the way there.” After two scouting sessions, I discovered that indeed foot passage was possible — provided you didn’t mind that first 15 minutes.

    Saturday morning I rose early to see what kind of hike I could put together out the backdoor, past the Circle K, over Occoneechee Mountain, through Hillsborough along the Eno River, around the Historic Occoneechee Speedway, and back. An 11-mile hike, it turned out, memorable in its own right. But made even more so by the fact I didn’t touch the car.

    Here’s what a carless hike looks like … .

    Trails for walkin’ in the rain

    Hiking along the Eno
    Hiking along the Eno

    To the glass-half-empty crowd, this weekend’s forecast of rain followed by more rain topped by a dash of drizzle (and more rain) may seem discouraging. But if you don’t mind seeing that half-full glass fill further, the wet weekend offers opportunity. You just need to know how to dress for it and where to best enjoy a walk in the wet woods.

    We’ve come up with five of our favorite rainy day romps. We tell you why these trails are better when wet, then refer you to the online hiking guide we compiled for our friends at Great Outdoor Provision Co. for specifics on making each hike happen.

    Grab your slicker and embrace the weekend.

    1. Sycamore Trail
    Umstead State Park, Raleigh
    7.2 miles
    Our favorite hike in the rain, period. In a mild rain, normally nondescript Sycamore Creek turns into a feisty mountain stream. The rock gardens that in drier times collect languid pools convert Sycamore Creek into a whitewater rollick that makes you want to grab the nearest playboat and dive in. Head to the main trailhead off the far parking lot for the entire 7.2 miles, or, get right to the frothy fun by starting from the Bike & Bridle trailhead, for a 4-mile adventure.
    More info and directions here.

    2. Stone Mountain Loop Trail
    Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap
    4.5 miles
    This popular loop is typically appreciated for its great views — views that will be obscured in this weekend’s forecast conditions. Rather, what you’ll get are low clouds dancing above the meadow that’s home to the Hutchinson Homestead, passage along the especially exuberant Stone Mountain Falls (on a wood staircase) and the occasional peeks across the valley to Wolf Rock when you top out on STMO. Another big plus: you’ll miss the crowds that typically flood the trail this time of year.
    More info and directions here.

    3. Occoneechee Mountain Loop
    Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough
    3 miles
    You like hiking in the mountains in the rain? Then you’ll like hiking at Occoneechee Mountain, where the trail passes through five distinct eco zones, at least two of which transport you to much higher climes. Hiked clockwise, the trail begins with a steep climb (Occoneechee tops out at 867 feet, the highest spot in the Triangle), then deposits you along the Eno. There, a 30-foot cliff provides a cool environment where rhododendron, mountain laurel, galax and other flora of the Southern Appalachians flourish.
    More info and directions here.

    4. Ridgeline Trail
    Crowders Mountain State Park, Kings Mountain (Charlotte area)
    12 miles
    If you’re properly geared up for the elements, there’s no better opportunity for some through head-clearing than a hike in the rain — a long hike in the rain. The Ridgeline Trail links Crowders Mountain in North Carolina with Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina. The North Carolina stretch is particularly contemplative, a rolling stretch with no grueling climbs, leaving enough oxygen to fuel the thought process. Not up for a shuttle? Walking in the rain is ideal for an out-and-back hike.
    More info and directions here.

    5. Price Lake
    Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 297
    2.7 miles
    The clouds are never content to settle over Price Lake. Constantly on the move, they shroud the lake in silence one minute, part briefly the next to reveal a glance at Grandfather Mountain. Rhododendron rim the lake, offering a degree of protection from the rain and glowing a brilliant dark green when coated in wet. The trail is accessible (the trailhead is along the parkway) and the distance makes it doable for even occasional hikers.
    More info and directions here.