firstdayhike2A traditional way to welcome the new year in the outdoors community is with a hike. The tradition is even better when you welcome the new year on a hike with fellow hikers.

Three years ago, North Carolina State Parks started doing just that by joining a nationwide state parks movement, First Day Hikes. This year, North Carolina State Parks will offer more than 40 guided hikes on January 1. You can find a list of those hikes by going here. Below is a list of hikes scheduled in our area; for more information on each hike, go here.


  • Carolina Beach State Park, 10 a.m., 2 miles.
  • Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, 8:30 a.m., 3.1 miles.
  • Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, 2 p.m.,1.5 miles.
  • Fort Macon State Park, 10 a.m., “leisurely hike.”
  • Goose Creek State Park, 2 p.m., half mile.
  • Hammocks Beach State Park/Bear Island Nature Hike, 9 a.m., 2 hours.
  • Jockey’s Ridge State Park, 10 a.m., dune hike.
  • Jones Lake State Park, 10 a.m.,
  • Lake Waccamaw State Park, 2 p.m.
  • Pettigrew State Park, 2 p.m.
  • Singletary Lake State Park, 2 p.m., 1 mile.


  • Chimney Rock State Park, 1 p.m., Hickory Nut Falls: moderately difficult hike.
  • Chimney Rock State Park, 2:30 p.m., Rumbling Bald:  1 mile.
  • Crowders Mountain State Park, 9 a.m., 6 miles.
  • Hanging Rock State Park, 10 a.m., 3 miles.
  • Haw River State Park, 10 a.m., 3.2 miles.
  • Haw River State Park, 1 p.m., 1 mile.
  • Lake Norman State Park, 1 p.m.
  • Mayo River State Park, 11 a.m., 1.8 miles.
  • Morrow Mountain State Park, 10 a.m., 2.8 miles.
  • Pilot Mountain State Park, 10 a.m., 1 mile.
  • Pilot Mountain State Park, 1 p.m., 6.6 miles
  • South Mountain State Park, 10 a.m., 1.5 miles.
  • Stone Mountain State Park, 1 p.m., 3 miles.

GH.Umstead.CMAnd if you’re in the Triangle, our GetHiking! Triangle group will be bringing in the new with a New Year’s Day Hike at Umstead State Park. And we truly do have a hike for you, regardless of your current hiking status:

  • Novice: New to hiking, or just getting back into it? We’ve got a 2-mile hike that’s ideal for starting the year on the right foot (or left, your choice). A mile hike down the Company Mill Trail to Crabtree Creek (where you can hang out and contemplate your future on the rocks), a mile hike back.
  • Happy hiker: Up for a good two to three hours on the trail? We’ll be hiking the entire, 6-mile Company Mill Trail, starting with the mile-long hike to Crabtree Creek, then continuing on the four-mile Company Mill loop.
  • Long-haul trekker: Looking to make 2015 your year of adventure? Then start bold with a 9-mile hike. We’ll do the Company Mill Trail mentioned above, and at the midpoint tack on the 3-mile loop of the Sycamore Trail, and especially good stretch following a good rain that keeps the Sycamore Creek elevated and frisky.

Our hikes will begin at 10 a.m., from the Company Mill Trailhead on the Harrison Avenue side of Umstead off I-40. Learn more about the hike and sign up here.

GH.Tips.WetTip of the Week Slippery when wet

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re entering the time of year when the weather is wet, the trail perpetually so. It rains one day, the trail stays wet for five. A couple things to keep in mind when hiking a wet trail:
Roots and rocks are more treacherous than usual. In dryer times, you may find it effective, with rocks especially, to navigate over their tops. Not a great strategy when they’ve been lubed. Stick to the Earth.
That said, fall’s abundant leaf litter may appear dry on top, but beneath you can experience a slippery, sliding mass: picture inadvertently stepping on a skateboard a youngster has left in the driveway.
OK, you’re saying, don’t step on rocks, tree roots or the leaves that are covering everything. Is this where we get out our fairy wings?
Actually, it’s where you get out those trekking poles I’ve been suggesting you use. Four points of contact beats two.

Resource of the Week My trunk

So you’re finally convinced to at least try hiking poles. But, What if I don’t like them? I don’t want to lay out a wad of cash only to discover I need my hands free?
I will refrain from making the obvious observation about needing free hands to catch yourself when you slip and fall, and instead remind you that I have several pairs of hiking poles in my trunk that are available for a trial hike. Let me know if you’d like to borrow a pair, show up a couple minutes before a hike, and I will give you a quick tutorial.
Another reason to use poles: They take some of the pressure off your knees and give you a full body workout.

Gear I Like Smartwool NTS Mid 250 Crew

f_5634d_1.1Sometimes, after a long hike or backpack trip, I just can’t live with myself, and it’s not because of an emotional issue stirred up by time alone in the woods.
It’s because of my stinky base layer.
Buy inexpensive base wear, pay the price. Which is why spending in the neighborhood of $100 for a good Merino Wool base layer no longer seems daft. And, if you’ll allow me to go a step further, it’s economical move at that.
My friend Alan now wears only Merino Wool base layers. He got onboard initially because of the ode de workout. He wore the base layer once without washing, twice … six weeks later, after hiking or biking in it at least twice a week, he still hadn’t washed it. And it still didn’t smell. This was good on an economical level as well: repeated washings not only burn electricity in the process, they also wear out the material. Alan has one base layer he’s used for going on three years that he’s washed five times (all by hand), and it’s still going strong. I’ve had base layers of lesser breeding that I’ve had to retire after a year simply because the smell wouldn’t wash out.
$100 for a base layer? It’s a deal.

* * *

Get our weekly GetHiking! or GetExploring! enewsletter delivered directly to your electronic device by emailing Be sure to specify which enewsletter you’d like, GetHiking! Triangle, Triad or Charlotte, or GetExploring! Greenville.