Much as you’d like to, it’s not always possible to escape for a full day on the trail. Sometimes, you need a place that’s, say, 10 minutes away, where you can get in a long hike in a pleasant setting. A place such as Salem Lake and the 7-mile natural surface trail that hugs the lake’s shoreline.

The Salem Lake Trail’s benefits are two-fold. Though this 365-acre lake is in the heart of Winston-Salem, it’s well-insulated from the bustle that exists beyond its banks. The fact that the trail is natural surface when the civic intention elsewhere might be to pave helps enforce a rustic, removed feel. You’ll find very few reminders that you are in the midst of a city.

The trail also serves as an excellent training option. Training for a big hike in the mountains? You won’t get the elevation here, but you will get the distance. (Laps, anyone?) And, again, the natural surface and natural setting beats the heck out of training on a treadmill at the gym.

The richly forested trail and its proximity to water also makes this a prime spot for fall color. Hiking counterclockwise from the park’s main lot there’s an especially brilliant stretch of redbuds, red maples and dogwoods around the four-mile mark.

More info: Salem Lake Park

Maps: Downloadable here, also available at the park.

Getting there from downtown Winston-Salem
Difficulty: easy to moderate (length)
Distance: 10 minutes from downtown Winston-Salem
Time to complete: 2 hours
Address: 1001 Salem Lake Road
City: Winston-Salem
State: N.C.
Zip: 27101
Latitude: 36.0569
Longitude: 80.1159