You don’t associate November with camping. But you should.
Cooler temperatures and crisp air make for inspiring days on the trail, quiet calm in a canoe, or the simple thrill of simply doing nothing in camp. Not to mention the great sleeping to be had when the temperature drops into the 50s and below.
Campgrounds are generally quiet this time of year. Settle into a comfy camp chair with a good book; get the urge for a spot of tea and it’s ready in an instant. As night falls, a little mood lighting adds to the intimacy of the woods after dark. Worry not if a chill sets in; you’re prepared.
Right now, camping is best in the Piedmont, but don’t dawdle. Some campgrounds already have closed for the season; more will close by month’s end. With that in mind, we offer five great camping escapes in the Piedmont for November. Check out these descriptions, then click on the link to our online adventure guide for details on how to plan and execute your own last-chance-2012 weekend camping escape.

1. Hanging Rock State Park

Hanging Rock’s 18 miles of diverse trail make it a hiker’s paradise, especially for campers. One of the most popular trails in the park, Moore’s Wall, runs through the centrally located campsite (73 sites, with hookups). That 4.2-mile loop takes you to the top of Moore’s Knob and great 360-degree views. It also connects with the Visitor Center, where you can pick up trails to waterfalls (Indian Creek, Upper Cascades Falls), to the park’s namesake attraction (1.2 miles), to more remote trails (Cook’s Wall, Reuben Mountain) — or some 500-miles west to Clingman’s Dome on the Tennessee line (the park is home to a stretch of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail). Rock climbing is allowed in the park; there’s scenic paddling on the Dan River, which borders the park; and while swimming in the 12-acre mountain pond is a Memorial Day-to-Labor Day only affair, the picturesque lake loves having its picture taken in all seasons.
More info here.

2. Medoc Mountain State Park
Halifax County

Ever have a campground to your lonesome? Or an entire state park? For reasons that have nothing to do with the park itself, Medoc Mountain is the Maytag repairman of North Carolina’s state parks. Situated on about 2,300 acres at the eastern edge of the northern Piedmont, Medoc Mountain has a great adventure personality: Little Fishing Creek cuts a 2.5-mile canoe path through the park that’s intimate and relaxed; a vast meadow at the main entrance is perfect for everything from Frisbee to simply lolling about; 10 miles of hiking trail explore a diverse park that includes a surprising climb up 320-foot Medoc Mountain; another 10 miles of bridle trail are popular with equestrians. Despite its charm, its location off blue highways in North Carolina’s sparsely populated Piedmont plateau keep Medoc Mountain a well-kept secret. The 34-site campground closes for the year the end of this month. Act fast.
More info here.


3. Jordan Lake State Recreation Area: Parker’s Creek

With more than 1,000 campsites, Jordan Lake typically doesn’t come to mind when your thoughts turn to a quiet camping getaway. The 14,000-acre reservoir is popular with the motorboat crowd, further diminishing its stock as a serene escape — during warm weather, that is. By the time November rolls around, you still have a few devout fisherman quietly trolling the shoreline; otherwise, Jordan Lake essentially hangs up a “gone fishin’” sign for the season. And that includes all its campgrounds — except for Poplar Point. On the eastern shore of Jordan, you can find escape not 10 miles from the suburbia. The lake to your west, the American Tobacco Trail to your east means lots of opportunity to peacefully paddle, bike and hike in an area that, during its busy season, is a bustling beehive of recreating.
More info here.

4. Lake Norman State Park

When you think adventure wonderland in the Charlotte area, you think of the U.S. National Whitewater Center, with its recirculating cement river, its 18 miles of mountain bike trail, its zipline, it’s climbing wall, its war canoes on the Catawba River. But up the Catawba a short distance, in Troutman, is Lake Norman State Park, an adventure paradise in its own right. There’s lots of intimate paddling on this spidery, 50-square-mile lake, there’s hiking trail, and there’s a whopping 30 miles of mountain bike trail, the most you’ll find this side of the Pisgah. The park’s 32-site campground makes a great basecamp for a weekend of adventure. But only for so long: this campground closes for the season the end of November.
More info here.

5. Cedar Rock Park

Discuss the state’s adventure hotspots and odds are central Alamance County doesn’t enter the conversation. But it should, because we’re hard-pressed to name a place in the state with more adventure per acre. For on Cedar Rock’s 414 acres of rolling terrain, you’ll find several miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, paddling on Rock Creek (no boat, no problem: there are canoe and kayak rentals), not one but two 18-hole disc golf courses, fishing and a little historical exploration at a restored 19th Century historical farm. Fortunately, there is a campground because you couldn’t possibly hit all of this in one day. Play, rest. Repeat.
More info here.