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

Our next adventure: Thru-hike the Uwharries

Little Long Mountain, in the Uwharrie National Forest.
Little Long Mountain, in the Uwharrie National Forest.This isn’t our next adventure, but it’s one you’ll need to plan for, so we mention it now.

At the end of May, the Land Trust for Central North Carolina will hold its third annual Uwharrie Trail Thru-Hike. Though billed as a 40-mile, four-day backpack trip, it can also be done in 10-mile day hikes.
The hike, which starts May 28 and runs through the 31st, will begin from the southern trailhead, the Wood Run Trailhead, off NC 24/27 and head north. Campsites will coincide with road crossings, making for easy access and egress. If you’ve been on either of our last two hikes — at Morrow Mountain or especially on the 6.2-mile stretch of the Uwharrie Trail north of Jumpinoff Rock, you know what great hiking this is.
We’ll have more information on the hike as the date nears, but go ahead and mark it in your calendar. The Land Trust for Central North Carolina has been working to reestablish the Uwharrie Trail to its former, 50-mile, splendor. Though the mileage for this outing is 40 miles, there is a stretch near the end that will be along roadways.
Again, more details here and on our GetHiking! Charlotte, Triad and Triangle Meetup site as the event nears.

Our last adventure: Morrow Mountain

FullSizeRenderWhat a difference a season makes. The last time I hiked at Morrow Mountain State Park was on a steamy summer day, the temperature in the low 90s, a thick curtain of cobwebs at every step. The best part of that hike: diving into the park pool at hike’s end (after a shower, of course).
Saturday, though, was a much more hiker-friendly experience. We hiked the 4.1-mile (4.2 according to my GPS) Fall Mountain Trail clockwise, starting with a long climb to the mountain’s ridge. Some of us stopped midway to catch our breath and check out the Kron family cemetery. Our breath was robbed again atop the mountain, where a half-mile stretch along the ridge offered great views of the ancient Uwharrie Mountains to the east and Lake Tillery below, views you don’t get in summer when leaves from the ample hardwoods clogg the view.
We had 30 people on the hike, most of whom continued on to do the 0.8-mile Three Rivers Trail. And for several of those hikers even that wasn’t enough as they continued on to hike Sugar or Hattaway Mountains.
See more photos from our hike here. Learn more about hiking at Morrow Mountain here.

GetExploring: at the coast

Merchants Millpond
Merchants Millpond

As we take a break from leading our own adventures and gear up for 2015, we refer you to some top opportunities at our regional state parks in the coming days. Attend the event, then stick around (or arrive early) and explore the park on your own. Click on the link to discover what those value-added adventures might be.

  • Volunteer Work Day-Invasive Species Removal, Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, Seven Springs, Saturday, 2 p.m. Ever look into the woods and wonder why a particular plant dominates? Chances are it’s an invasive species, one introduced from the outside that doesn’t have natural predators and thus tends to move in and dominate. Help restore the forest to its original state by yanking and pulling these intruding plants. More info: 919.778.6234.
  • Animals in Winter, Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills, Saturday, 2 p.m. Think you’ve got a tough decision deciding which coat to wear when you venture out in the cold? Think about the animals who live outside the whole season and must make winter-related decisions on a regular basis. A ranger tells you about how critters cope with the season. More info: 252.771.6593.
  • Planets & Stars, Hammocks Beach State Park, Swansboro, Saturday, 5:30 p.m. The crisp, clear winter sky is ideal for stargazing. Come to Hammocks Beach and learn what’s up in the night sky and where to find it. Binos and telescopes provided. More info: 910.326.4881.
  • Coastal Crafts, Hammocks Beach State Park, Swansboro, Sunday, 2 p.m. You go to the beach, you collect shells, you bring ‘em home — then what? Why, you make a nifty craft out of them, that’s what. Come and learn some innovative uses for your shells. More info: 910.326.4881.
  • Coleman Trail Nature Hike, Merchants Millpond State Park, Gatesville, Sunday, 2:30 p.m. An invigorating two-mile hike during which a ranger will discuss the natural and human history of Merchants Millpond (pictured above). More info: 252.357.1191

Gear I Like: Trekking poles

TrekkingPolesI sound like a broken record at the beginning of every hike, but really, trekking poles can make a difference. They can save your knees and back, they help with balance, they make creek crossings safer, they give you a full body workout — there are so many reasons to try them. To at least try them.
So the next time I offer, if you haven’t tried them, take me up on it. If you discover you need your hands free and don’t like them, I can fold them up, put ‘em in my pack and put you on my do-not-call-upon-ever-again list. What do you have to lose?

Tip of the Week: Which kind of poles?

We’re sticking with a theme this week: hiking/trekking poles. Once you’ve tried them and discovered you like them, a quick tip about buying them. There are a boatload of options, with prices for decent ones ranging from just under $50 to $200. Some have shock absorbers, some have cork handles, some are made of carbon fiber and are light as a feather. None of those features, though, should be your main consideration.
Most poles have at least two points at which the poles can be shortened or lengthened and broken down for storage in your pack. And most poles have one of two mechanisms that allow this to happen.
Don’t get: Poles with internal locking mechanisms. The theory is that you twist it one direction to loosen and adjust, the other direction to tighten and lock into place. Go too far in either direction — which is easy to do — and the mechanism frequently gets out of whack and either doesn’t loosen or doesn’t lock.
Do get: Poles with external locking levers (pictured). It’s a good old-fashioned lever you can easily open or close. Usually, they have a screw to adjust the tension.
Pretty simple. Pretty reliable.

Resource of the Week: Outdoor Gear Lab

Outdoor Gear Lab shares it’s analysis on all kinds of gear.
Trekking poles, for instance.
In one last attempt to pique your interest in hiking poles, check out Outdoor Gear Lab’s Ten Reasons for Trekking Poles, then noodle around the rest of the site for additional gear insight.

GetHiking!  |  |  Joe Miller  |  |  919.791.6155