November? Already?
You’re right: technically, it’s not November. The month doesn’t start until Sunday. But it’s imminence should serve as a reminder that the 2015 adventure season is about to close. Come Thanksgiving and through year’s end, you’ll be consumed by the holidays. On January 2nd you’ll wake up and discover — rats! — it’s winter, and a lot of your favorite adventures will be in the deep freeze for a couple months, at least.
It’s imperative that you get in as much adventure before the 2015 window closes.
We’ve come up with five classic adventures that we think are especially worthwhile, for various reasons: because their season is ending, because their season is just beginning, because they’re close to home.
Check out the adventure, then check out the link to our online adventure guide for details on how to make each adventure a reality.
And don’t delay, it’s November!

1. Bear Island
Hammocks Beach State Park, Swansboro

It’s the alert we long to see this time of year on the Hammocks Beach website: “Ferry Service Ended for 2015 Season.” That means typically crowded Bear Island will be nearly deserted until ferry service resumes in April. Nearly deserted, save for folks like you who grab a paddle and take the 2.6-mile water trail from the mainland through the protected marsh of Bogue Sound to the bluff at the north end of Bear island. From there, you have the three-mile strand to explore in silence. Walk down the beach, listening to the late-fall Atlantic make landfall. Return up the middle of the island, little more than a half mile at its widest, through sea oats, myrtles and live oaks. Park on a dune, close your eyes, open your ears, escape. Stay for the day, or reserve one of 14 backcountry sites and spend the night, watching the sun rise over the ocean, set over the mainland. Don’t have a kayak?  Rent one from Hidden Coast Adventures.
Plan your adventure starting here.

2. Stone Mountain State Park
Roaring Gap

Stone Mountain is one of our favorite places to explore. Or it will be in another couple weeks. By then, the park’s spectacular fall color will have faded, the masses drawn like moths to its chromatic glow gone as well. Thus, you have this 14,100-acre preserve along the Blue Ridge escarpment to explore without elbowing your way down even for the park’s most popular trail, the 4.5-mile Stone Mountain Loop Trail, which traverses Stone Mountain’s 600-foot dome, climbs along a 200-foot waterfall, and meanders through a meadow that houses the Hutchinson Homestead, an early attempt to tame the region. The 1.5-mile Wolf Rock Trail takes you up to the park’s lesser-known rock face, ditto the mile-long Cedar Rock Trail. Or, steel yourself for the 6-mile climb up the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Devil’s Garden Overlook. Because of the park’s rich human history, there’s also great off-trail exploring, where you’re likely to run across an old homestead, even more likely to stumble over an old still. Rock climbing and catch-and-release trout streams, too. There’s also year-round camping (including backcountry sites) so you don’t have to do it all in one day.
Plan your adventure starting here.

3. Shining Rock
Blue Ridge Parkway / Pisgah National Forest

A particular goal of your November adventures should be to hit the places you may not be able to get to once winter hits. The Shining Rock Wildnerness, for example is best accessed off the Blue Ridge Parkway via the National Forest Service’s Black Balsam Access. While the access may be open year-round, this segment of the parkway, much of which is above a mile in altitude, is often closed in winter due to snow and especially ice. Those closures generally start in December and linger into March. Access aside, this is one gorgeous stretch of high country, with some of the best and abundant panoramic views in the Southeast. Hike Ivestor Gap Trail to Shining Rock, return via the Art Loeb Trail and get a better appreciation for the quiet and vastness of the approaching winter. Plan to spend additional time atop Black Balsam and Tennent Mountain. Need more incentive? While hardly deserted, you’ll find far fewer people poking about Shining Rock this time of year.
Plan your adventure starting here.

4. Neusiok Trail
Croatan National Forest, Havelock

For most of our selections, the season is winding down. For the Neusiok Trail, it’s just beginning. The Neusiok runs 20 miles through the coastal Croatan National Forest, it’s northern terminus below a bluff overlooking the two-and-a-half-mile wide Neuse River, its southeastern terminus at Oyster Point, on the Newport River. The southeastern two-thirds in particular explores a low, boggy pineland, the boggy portions of the trail elevated by boardwalk. Nearer the Neuse, as it approaches the Pine Cliff Recreation Area, the trail goes through a bit of an identity crises, suddenly suggesting the Appalachians as it becomes rolling and passes holly, beech and galax. Make no mistake, though, this trail is all coastal: in warmer weather it’s frequented by the assorted flying and slithering critters associated with such lowlands (a primitive camping area along the way is appropriately names “Copperhead Landing”). When temperatures drop into the 50s and below, the Neusiok loses its menace and becomes a top North Carolina adventure.
Plan your adventure starting here.

5. Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
Sometimes, the best adventures are in your own backyard. Several years back we craved a paddle trip, but were short on time. We thought about all the spots we’d like to paddle — mostly intimate creeks Down East — realized they were all a day trip at least, then glumly got out our local maps and, for reasons we don’t recall, went to Jordan Lake. A curious choice, since we’d always associated the 46,000-acre lake as the domain of wake-making, peace-and-quiet-piercing motorboats. To our surprise, we put in at Farrington Point along with the big boys, then parted ways, paddling up one of the lake’s numerous fingers that gradually pinches down into a wetland filled by small feeder creeks. We spend three hours probing small draws and watching as the lake’s diverse bird population (including the bald eagle) circled overhead. Subsequent examination of the lake map revealed nearly a dozen other access points with similar attributes. We’ve since discovered that Jordan Lake is not alone; the Triangle’s other lake-based State Recreation Area, Falls Lake, offers even more intimate paddles.
Plan your adventure starting here.