As part of our March-long Spring Into Adventure series, we look at ways you can take advantage of the longer, warmer days ahead. Last week, we went in search of spring wildflowers. Today, we look at where and how you can take advantage of Daylight Saving Time, which begins Sunday.

This evening, the sun will set at 6:18 p.m. In three days, on Sunday, the sun will set at 7:21 p.m. Throw in civil twilight, the time until useful daylight runs out, and you’ve got another 15 playful and productive minutes.
Suddenly, your time after work goes from meandering home to a dark apartment to zipping out of work for what now is ample time for a nice outdoor adventure. It’s not a lot of time — but it is enough, provided you spend it wisely and know beforehand where you’re headed.
To that end, we offer these great spots in the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte areas where you can maximize your newfound after-work adventure time, courtesy Daylight Saving Time.


1. Lake Crabtree County Park

It’s not just the park’s convenience, located on the edge of the Triangle’s Research Triangle Park, that recommends if for daylight saving fun; it’s the breadth of options. For starters, Lake Crabtree is the birthplace of mountain biking hereabouts, the Mount Tam of the Triangle, opening to the then-newfangled off-road two-wheelers in 1992. Today, the park has 8 miles of trail, plus a pump track and jumps. Its 520-acre lake is popular with paddlers (there’s a $5 put-in fee; boat rentals start later in the spring), in part because anything larger than a 5 hp trolling motor is verboten. And if you’re into secluded hiking, a six-mile trail circles the lake.
Closing time: sunset
More info here.

2. Bur-Mil Park

It’s silly, really, how much you can do at this 250-acre park on the south shore of Lake Brandt. For starters, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail runs through the park. Currently, if follows the southern shoreline of Lakes Higgins, Brandt and Townsend, and you can hike about 42 miles of trail (eventually, you’ll be able to hike west to Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or east to Jockey’s Ridge on the Atlantic. Perhaps an evening paddle on Lake Brandt is your thing. Or a bike ride on the Atlantic Yadkin Greenway? Don’t have a bike? You can borrow one. Tennis? Golf? Indeed, you are correct: until DST offers up 24 hours of daylight, there isn’t enough time.
Closing: 7 p.m.
More info here.

3. Mecklenburg County Nature Preserves
Charlotte, Huntersville
The challenge to enjoying a little after-work adventure in Charlotte is simply getting there: the oxymoronic “rush hour” traffic can eat up precious daylight driving across town for a run, a hike or a paddle. Fortunately, with 19 nature preserves spread around town, odds are you needn’t drive far to find one. Work in Uptown? It’s a short drive northeast to Reedy Creek Nature Preserve, where you can hike on 10 miles of trail. Live up north, you’ve got options from short hikes at Rural Hall and Stephens Road, to hiking, horseback riding, paddling and more at Latta Plantation. Live on the east side? Work in a sunset mountain bike ride on nearly 12 miles of flowy trail at Sherman Branch. Eleven of the nature preserves have hiking trail, which means you’re assured of at least getting in a short hike. After work, that’s sometimes all you need.
Closing: Most preserves close at sunset
More info here.


4. Pilot Mountain State Park
Imagine being in the mountains less than a half hour after getting off work. Or at least in a place that resembles the mountains. That’s the case if you work in downtown Winston-Salem: when the whistle blows at 5, hop in the Outback and by 5:30 you’re trying to puzzle out one of the many one-pitch climbing routes along Ledge Spring. If you’re a hiker, you’ve got time to spare to explore the scenic trails around the Big Pinnacle (and to enjoy an unobstructed view of sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains), and if you’re a competitive cyclist, an hour is all you need to get spent repeating the popular 2.5-mile climb to the summit, with an average grade of 10 percent and peaking out at 16 percent. Paddling, too, on the Yadkin River Canoe Trail.
Closing: 9 p.m. for the Mountain Section, 7 p.m. for the Yadkin River Section.
More info here.

5. Your local greenway

Most urban areas (see links before for details)
Not 20 years ago, only a select few had access to greenways in North Carolina, and what greenways there were were seldom more than a mile long. A building boom spurred by bond packages and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a kind of mini-version Civilian Conservation Corps, has, in many places, resulted in greenway systems that now resemble secondary transportation networks. In Raleigh, for instance, the 27.5-mile Neuse River Trail not only provides more than a marathon of walking, running and cycling along the Neuse, it connects with the 14.6-mile Crabtree Creek Trail and 15.6-mile Walnut Creek Trail. All told, more than 120 miles of greenway in Raleigh alone.
Closing: Most greenways officially close at dusk.
More info: Here are links to a number of greenways in the region: Triangle: Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Durham, Chapel Hill, Triad: Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem,  Charlotte area: Charlotte, Carolina Thread Trail.