The following items are gleaned from our GetHiking! enewsletters for Charlotte, the Triad and the Triangle, and our GetExploring! Greenville enewsletter. All enewsletters are delivered, upon request, to subscribers’ email boxes on Mondays. If you’d like to sign up for this free service, email

Two trips to Medoc Mountain State Park

GH.MedocMountain2One of our missions at GetHiking! is to expose hikers to the trails less traveled. You’re curious, you want to explore different trails.
That’s our goal Saturday with GetHiking! Triangle and again on Feb. 7 with GetExploring Greenville, when we make our first visit to Medoc Mountain State Park, a gorgeous forest that’s close to nothing but only an hour and a half drive from both the Triangle and Greenville.
Both hikes will cover a majority of the 10 miles of trail at Medoc Mountain. We’ll scale 320-foot Medoc Mountain, we’ll hike along Little Fishing Creek, we’ll climb a bluff over the river, we’ll pass the site of what was once the first winery in the New World.

Consult the appropriate Meetup site — GetHiking! Triangle or GetExploring! Greenville — for more information and to sign up.

Another option: Explore a state park

While we have a slight lull in the schedule, we thought we’d let you know about some upcoming hikes at regional state parks.

  • SalamanderNight Hike to Luther Rock, Friday, 6 p.m., Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson.  A bit of a drive, perhaps, but the payoff is getting to see the night sky (weather permitting) from a mile up in an area with little light pollution. Advises the park: “Parts of this hike are considered strenuous and hiking at night can be physically challenging.” More info: 336.246.9653.
  • Winter Birds of the N.C. Mountains, Saturday, 1 p.m., Elk Knob State Park, Todd. It takes a sturdy bird to survive the winter in North Carolina’s mountains. Come to the park and find out who some of these hearty birds are. More info: 828.297.7261.
  • Salamanders of Gorges State Park, Saturday, 1:30 p.m., Gorges State Park, Sapphire. It won’t be long before the salamanders begin to exert themselves, and nowhere will that effort be more intense than in Gorges State Park, where, “The unique amount of rainfall, steep elevation changes, and mountain geology make great habitat for salamanders.” More info: 828.966.9099
  • Wintergreen Hike, Saturday, 2 p.m., South Mountains State Park, Connelly Springs, Desperate for some green in this sea of winter gray? This hike on the Hemlock Nature Trail should provide a good fix. More info: 828.433.4772
  • Winter Tree Identification, Sunday, 1 p.m., Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle. Perhaps you can recognize a tree by its leaves, but can you make a positive ID based on its shape or bark?  Listen and learn. 336.325.2355.

Tip of the Week: Trailhead ‘facilities’

George Costanza once mused about writing a guide to restrooms in New York City.  For whatever reason, he had reviewed nearly every facility in the five boroughs. Likewise, I’m sure a number of you have thought that a guide to trailhead facilities would be a swell thing. Many of you relish a proper loo to help christen a hike, many of you pick up the pace at hike’s end in anticipation of visiting the same.
There is not, as far as I know, such a resource. But here’s a thought or two on the subject. Most state parks have facilities at or very near the main trailheads; double check by visiting the park map on the park website for the familiar guy & gal RR symbol before heading out. Your better maps — those in the Trails Illustrated series, for instance — will often show the location of trail-related facilities.
If you’re uncertain whether you’ll be greeted by a quarter moon at the trailhead, check your route and scout the nearest town or spot where you’re likely to find a restroom. A little planning can help head off a potentially troubling situation.

Resource of the Week:

On the North Carolina State Parks website, you can learn a lot more about a park than whether it has a potty at the trailhead. The website is a great resource for scouting a park: you can learn about everything about a park, from its flora, fauna and human development, to the various recreational opportunities available. You’ll also find a useful park map and directions for how to reach the park. Also available in app form via Pocket Ranger, for your mobile device (though don’t rely on it onsite; cell signals can be spotty).

Gear I Like: $5 (or less) gloves

226676_cotton_knitted_gloves_black_colorA hiker arrived at the trailhead early Sunday and apologized for her gloves. “I’m not sure where my real gloves are, so I just grabbed these.”
“These” were a pair of cotton gloves, the kind you can pick up for less than $5 a pair (I’ve seen them online for $11.95 for a dozen). Au contraire, I said. Aside from the fact they’re cotton (if they get wet, they stay wet), they’re not only great at keeping your fingers warm, they permit digital dexterity to perform a variety of functions, from grabbing a snack and unwrapping it to taking pictures with your point-and-shoot. Granted, they lose their effectiveness when the temperature gets much below 20. But how often are you out when it’s that cold anyway?