Celebrate your independence this July 4 weekend by exercising your right to pick the adventure of your choice. And in this free market of North Carolina adventure, you’ve got plenty of options, from a walk celebrating history at the coast, to mountain firecracker 5Ks, to an adventure of your choosing to the beat of live music.
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.
Wandering through Old Salem, from which Winston-Salem derives its second half, I was reminded that you needn’t drive deep into the country to enjoy fall color. I was reminded, too, that while the season is always better on foot — more time to linger and enjoy — you don’t necessarily need to walk an unpaved surface.
It’s days like today that I pat myself on the back for a decision made 13 years ago.
I’d just finished a gorgeous day on the groomed trails at the White Grass ski touring center in West Virginia and was returning my rental equipment.
“How was it?” asked the ski rental guy.
“Incredible!” I oozed. “I can’t wait to go again.”
“You know,” he said, “Our rental skis are for sale.” At a price, it turned out, that was more than I could afford but too good to refuse. I’ve used them a dozen times since; I’m hoping to make it a baker’s dozen tomorrow.
As Winter Storm Leon (sheesh) makes its way up the coast, the prospects are good for cross-country conditions, from the Triangle into the coastal plain. As of this morning, parts of the Triangle were expected to get up to six inches of snow — with points east forecast to get 10 inches or more.
On the right kind of trail, six inches is all it takes to make or decent cross-country conditions. Where might one find the right kind of trail?
Glad you asked.
The trail was engulfed in a a tunnel of color and in the course of two days I went from fearing that the fall foliage display had passed us by to believing this was the best fall color show ever.
Going into last weekend I was convinced that fall color in the Piedmont would be at its peak. The week before had seen sunny, dry days and overnight lows had dropped into the 30s: the perfect combo, say the folks who follow the lives and deaths of leafs, for great color. Yet on a long Sunday afternoon hike at Umstead State Park, there was precious little color to be oogled.
Wednesday morning, though, driving to RDU we finally did notice that change, in the hardwoods lining I-40. On a Thursday afternoon run on Umstead’s Company Mill Trail, the change was remarkable. Early this morning, on Umstead’s Loblolly Trail, I was suddenly embraced by the raspberry reds of the dogwoods, the lemony yellows of the hickories and the orangey oranges of the smattering of spectacular sugar maples. It was the Trix triple play of fall color. (Check out our short slideshow, shot this morning on the Loblolly and Old Reedy Creek trails.)
It’s finally happening, folks. Fall color is peaking in the Piedmont, and you best not wait to enjoy it.
According to the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development’s Piedmont Fall Foliage report, Haw River State Park and Falls Lake State Recreation Area are likewise reporting peak color. Officially, Umstead reports that, “The next two weekends should be excellent times to visit the park.” Based on what we saw, it’s hard to imagine this level of brilliance will stick around that long. If you love fall color and you live in the Piedmont, we suggest you not delay — get out this weekend.
For direction, we refer you to this rundown of 35 Piedmont hiking trails we produced in conjunction with our friends at Great Outdoor Provision Co. http://greatoutdoorprovision.com
Pick a trail. Get your camera. Have a colorful weekend.