Think Mayo River and you think whitewater paddling. When the river’s up, the 18-mile-long (in North Carolina) Mayo boasts some of the Piedmont’s most challenging rapids; Sections 1 and 3 both have some Class III water, according to Paul Ferguson’s “Paddling Eastern North Carolina.”
Hiking, on the other hand, doesn’t immediately come to mind because of a lack of public lands along the Mayo. But that changed in 2010 when the 1,967-acre Mayo River State Park entered the North Carolina State Parks system. While paddling will still be the star at this linear state park, MYSP does have a 2-mile trail that offers a quiet taste of the Piedmont panache.
The Mayo Mountain Ridge Trail leaves the parking area in no particular hurry and begins climbing in no particular hurry. Not a hard climb; it’s barely perceptible, in fact. But it doesn’t quit until it’s time to start making the mellow return, at about the one-mile mark. It’s typical Piedmont hiking, through a maturing hardwood forest. It has less understory than you’ll find most other places in the Piedmont, making for nice views and better-than-usual wildlife viewing opportunities. A foot-friendly tread and the gentle landscape make for a hike accessible to folks challenged by most natural surface trails.
A good option for out-of-town guests curious about this part of the country.
More info: Mayo River State Park
Maps: Downloadable here, also available at the park.
Getting there from downtown Greensboro
Distance: 45 minutes from downtown Greensboro
Time to complete: 1-1.5 hours
Address: 500 Old Mayo Park Road