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

This week’s hikes:

Triangle: Cox Mountain, Eno River State Park
640.5899Somehow, we’ve managed to overlook one of the best hikes in the Triangle: the 5-mile Cox Mountain Trail at the Fews Ford Access to Eno River State Park. Saturday, we’ll remedy that situation.
The trail includes a short (less than a quarter mile) but steep hike at the start, followed by a mellow drop down to the river and a nice ramble back from there. Read more about the hike here. Sign up to be part of the action here.
Also this week is an information session for our next GetBackpacking! session. The info session and slideshow is Thursday, Jan. 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Great Outdoor Provision Co. store in Raleigh’s Cameron Village.
Learn more about our GetBackpacking! program here, sign up for the info session here.

Charlotte, Triad: Morrow Mountain
MorrowSaturday, we return to the Uwharries for a 5-mile hike at Morrow Mountain State Park.
We’ll start with a warm-up on the short Three Rivers Loop Trail near the lake, then get some elevation on the Fall Mountain Loop Trail.
This hike is rated moderate. Read more about Saturday’s hike here.
Also this week, we’ll have an information session Friday evening for the GetHiking! North Carolina Classic Hikes program. Beginning in February, and for each of the next 12 months we’ll hike one of North Carolina’s most classic trails. Learn more about this fee-based program ($25 per hike) here; learn more about Friday evening’s info session at our store in the Park Road Shopping Center and sign up here.

Greenville: Pack fitting clinic
When you’re hauling even 20 pounds in your backpack, it’s important that you’re pack be properly weighted and balanced. If you have yet to embrace the ultralight concept and go with a 40-pound pack, it’s doubly important to be well-packed.
That’s the goal of our Thursday in-store Pack Fitting Clinic. That and making sure that the pack you get is the pack that’s best-suited to your body and to the type of backpacking you plan to do. Having a properly fitted, properly packed pack can mean all the difference between a memorable backcountry experience and swearing off the activity forever.
The clinic is at our Greenville store at 530 SE Greenville Blvd. in La Promenade II, and starts at 7 p.m.
Learn more and sign up to attend at our Meetup site.

Our last adventure: New trail in the Uwharries

GH.UwharrieThe highest point on the Uwharrie Trail. The best view in the Uwharrie Mountains. A spring. An old gold mine. And I stop there because there’s only so much space in this enewsletter.
Our weekend hike on 6.2 miles of new trail in the Uwharries was about as good as hiking gets in the Piedmont. Moreso than anywhere else in this relict mountain range you got a feel of being in actual mountains. First, atop King Mountain, at 1,020 feet the highest point on the 26-mile Uwharrie Trail. Later, on Little Long Mountain, where thin soils and repeated logging have left the summit clear, save some invasive Tree of Paradise. Otherwise, an ideal spot to survey the Uwharries, have lunch and perhaps a quick nap.
Host Don Childrey was the perfect guide for this trip. As a Boy Scout, he explored the Uwharries extensively in the 1970s; as an adult, he lived in the region for 10 years and write a guidebook about the area, a book, “Uwharrie Lakes Region Trail Guide,” whose second edition has just been released.
If you missed this hike, two things: One, you can find a slideshow of Saturday’s hike at And two, we’ll repeat this hike in the spring. Watch the Meetup site for details.

Tip of the Week: Finding Your Way

GH.BlazeWe’ve touched on this before, but it’s worth periodically revisiting. Most of the trails we hike are blazed: to help you find your way they should have a unique, distinguished marking on trees along the way. Saturday, for instance, the Uwharrie Trail had a white rectangle, similar to the blaze for the Appalachian Trail. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail, a trail we hike frequently, uses a white circle. Blazes are typically painted on trees. Occasionally, they are metal symbols of a hiker. Know the blaze you’re hiking before hitting the trail and you’ll improve your way finding abilities. That said, two observations:

  • If you think you may have strayed off trail, stop and look around for the appropriate blaze. If you don’t see one ahead, turn and look behind you (for blazes guiding from the opposite direction). If you still don’t see any blazes, retreat as best you can and keep looking for your blaze.
  • Double blazes. Occasionally, you will see a double blaze. This means the trail takes a sharp turn, or does something unexpected. Slow down and take note of where the trail heads by searching for the next single blaze.

Resource of the Week: Appalachian Trail Conservancy

imagesOne of the best hiking sites around is that of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the non-profit charged with managing and maintaining the  2,180-mile AT. It contains a treasure of information about both the AT and hiking in general. And, rom the site you can order their guidebooks and maps, easily the most helpful and entertaining trail guides around. A worthy bookmark.

Gear I Like: Osprey Raptor 10

Osprey_Raptor-101I’ll admit, I’m not a one-pack guy. Six packs hang from my wall of packs, all of which see action at least once a month. My packs serve different functions, but come winter I tend to stick with the Osprey Raptor, a hydration pack with room to store extra layers, snacks, gloves, a hat, rain gear — anything that could mean the difference between an enjoyable winter hike and survival.
I’m not sure the size of this pack, but it handles everything I need (which is the above) for a winter day hike. It’s got handy side pockets for quick access to snacks and place to store a headband when the ears heat up, and a back pocket for quick stashing of an outer layer. It’s durable and lightweight.
The one-liter bladder is also well-suited to a day on the trail.

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