As places to live go, a hiker could do a lot worse than the Triad.
According to Allen de Hart’s “Trails of the Triad,” there are more than 140 hikes within a 50-mile radius of the area — and that was as of the guidebook’s publication in 1997, more than 16 years ago.
That’s a lot of hiking within a short drive. Then consider what lies just beyond:

  • Stone Mountain State Park, with more than 14,000 acres and 12 miles of trail along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, about an hour’s drive.
  • Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with more than 30 miles of mountain trail, just over an hour’s drive.
  • Fairy Stone State Park, with great day-hike options, and rugged Rock Castle Gorge, both just over the state line in Virginia.
  • Grayson Highlands State Park and the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. With more than 200,000 acres of rugged, exposed terrain offering hiking like you’d find out West, this is the apex of Southeast hiking. And it’s just an hour and a half away.

With so many day-hike options so close at hand, it’s little wonder the area has two hiking groups — Triad Hiking & Outdoors Group and the 336 hikers — with more than 1,000 members each.
So why aren’t you hiking? Or hiking more?
It probably boils down to one of two reasons.

  • You’re new to hiking and aren’t sure how to get started. The thought of escaping your well-manicured existence is appealing but just how wild is it out there? Ticks bearing Lyme disease, rabid raccoons, venomous snakes, bears — oh, the stories your’ve heard! How much risk should you be prepared to handle? Maybe if there was someone to guide you through the process, to answer your questions, to patiently take you into the woods and ease you into hiking. Sure, there are hiking groups out there. But you’ve heard tales of newcomers getting left behind to fend for themselves. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a hiking group that vowed to leave no hiker behind?
  • You aren’t sure where to go. Maybe you’re already comfortable in the woods — a little too comfortable, because you tend to go to the same place over and over. Or maybe you’re new to the area and aren’t sure what’s out there. You’d venture out more, but you just aren’t sure where to go. Wouldn’t it be great to hike with a group intent on exposing you to different trails?

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a hiking group whose goal was to eliminate both of these concerns?
The answer to both predicaments: There is such a group.
Welcome to the first season of GetHiking! Triad with the Great Outdoor Provision Co. GetHiking! Triad is a series of weekly hikes and monthly seminars targeted to both beginners and to hikers who get out some but would love to get out more. Starting on Thursday, Jan. 23 with our kickoff event (see below for details), Great Outdoor Provision Co. will lead weekly hikes on different trails in the Triad. The hikes will be short (around four miles) and simple at first, growing in distance and difficulty as we progress into the spring.
Here’s what you can expect from our hikes:

  • No-drop hiking. Our hikes are lead from the rear, meaning the slowest hikers in the pack will never be dropped. At the beginning of each hike we quickly review a map of the trail and note any potential points of confusion. More experienced hikers then lead the way (which helps them develop their way-finding skills).
  • Mid-week and weekend hiking. Most of our hikes in the winter will be on Sunday afternoons. As we progress, we’ll add some after work outings. “In the winter?” you ask. “It’s dark.” Indeed, which brings us to another feature of our program … .
  • Night hiking. If you’re leery of hiking in broad daylight you’re probably thinking the notion of hiking at night is daft. In fact, being in the woods after sunset is a unique outdoors experience, and hiking under a headlamp is a good skill to hone, allowing you to greatly expand your outdoor options during the dark days of winter.
  • Discover local trails. Hikers with some experience will benefit from learning new places to hike. Our schedule (see below) includes 12 hikes on 12 different trails. Further, we’ll expose you to 25 trails and trail networks in the Triad alone.
  • Monthly seminars. As you grow comfortable on the trail, you’ll want to know more about hiking. On the second Thursday of every month — in January, February and March — we’ll hold seminars at our Greensboro and Winston-Salem stores. We’ll talk some gear, we’ll talk some about great trails to explore.
  • Earn gear. Here’s something else you won’t find in other hiking groups: the chance to earn gear. We’re working on the details, which will be announced at our GetHiking! Triad kickoff event on Jan. 23.
  • Meet other hikers. Eventually, you’ll want to explore on your own. When that happens you’ll have a new collection of GetHiking! friends to hike with.

We’ll keep in close contact with you in three ways:

  • GetHiking! Triad.  All of our hikes will be announced on our Meetup site well in advance (go there now and you’ll see all hikes scheduled for January and February). Join the Meetup (there’s no charge), find out the hike details, RSVP.
  • Facebook. We’ll communicate with you on the Great Outdoor Provision Co. Facebook page with photos on the past week’s hike and details on the hike ahead.
  • E-newsletter. We’ll send a quick e-newsletter each week with tips, resources, photos from the past week’s hike and information on the coming week’s outing.

To register for our GetHiking! program, you can either join our GetHiking! Triad Meetup group or stop by either our Greensboro store in the Friendly Shopping Center or our Winston-Salem Store in the Thruway Shopping Center and register.
You can also sign up at our aforementioned GetHiking! Triad kickoff on Jan. 23, at our Greensboro store in the Friendly Shopping Center. We’ll go from 6:30 to 7:30, and everyone who attends gets a free pair of hiking socks!

We’ll let you in on another secret about hiking: winter is one of the best times to be in the woods. The open tree canopies provide better views and the cold temperatures are great motivation to keep moving! Plus, if you’ve resolved to be a healthier, more active you in 2014, what better way than by hiking!

We’re excited about spending time with you on the trail this winter and exposing you to the wonderful world of Triad hiking!

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The Kickoff

When: Thursday, Jan. 23, at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Great Outdoor Provision Co., Friendly Shopping Center, 3104 Northline Ave., Greensboro.
Details: We’ll introduce the program, talk about some of the great trails we’ll hit (see below), show some slides, talk a little gear, and talk hiking in general. We’ll have refreshments and everyone who attends gets a free pair of SmartWool hiking socks.!
More info: Check our GetHiking! Triad Meetup page.

The Hikes

Here’s a rundown of the hikes we have planned for the beginning of 2014. Detailed information is available at our GetHiking! Triad website.

Saturday, Jan. 25

Greensboro Watershed Lakes, Greensboro: Osprey Trail. 1:30 p.m., 4.6 miles

Sunday, Feb. 2

Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury: Moore’s Knob Trail. 1:30 p.m. 4.2 miles

Sunday, Feb. 9

Hagan Stone Park, Pleasant Garden: Louise Chatfield Trail, 1:30 p.m. 4.3 miles

Sunday, Feb. 16

Birkhead Mountain Wilderness, Uwharrie National Forest: lollipop loop hike, 11.5 miles

Sunday, Feb. 23

Salem Lake Park, Winston-Salem: Salem Lake Trail, 1:30 p.m., 7 miles.