The following items are from our GetExploring! Greenville and GetHiking! Charlotte, Triad and Triangle enewsletters. All enewsletters are delivered, upon request, to subscribers’ email boxes on Mondays. If you’d like to sign up for this free service, email

Our upcoming adventures

DSCF2873GetHiking! Half-Day Loop at South Mountains State Park
GetHiking! Charlotte
When: Saturday, March 12, 9 a.m.
Where: South Mountains State Park

At approximately 18,000 acres, South Mountains State Park south of Morganton is the biggest park in the North Carolina State Parks system. It also may be the least well-known. That’s not because of a lack of great hiking, however: more than 40 miles of trail explore a park that has a mountain feel minus the additional drive. Dense pine stands, trout streams, the 80-foot High Shoals Falls, views and more all make South Mountains a great place to explore. On our trip, we will do a challenging 12.5-mile loop including the Chestnut Knob, Sawtooth, Horseridge, Possum, Shinny, Headquarters, Upper Falls and High Shoals Falls trails.

Hike leaders: David Brantley and Lisa
More info and to sign up, at the GetHiking! Charlotte Meetup site.

GetHiking! Crowders Mountain Out-And-Back
GetHiking! Charlotte
When: Sunday, March 13, 10 a.m.

GHC.CrowdersPerhaps you’ve hiked Crowders Mountain State Park, but have you hiked the Ridgeline Trail out to The Boulders Access? From the Visitor Center, the Ridgeline Trail takes you far from Crowders’ maddening crowds, over wooded ridges all the way into South Carolina. We’ll stop at The Boulders Access to explore and check out the views, then head back. About four hours of hiking on moderate terrain.

Hike leaders: David Brantley and Lisa
More info here.

GetHiking! Southeast’s Classic Hikes: Doughton Park
GetHiking! Triangle, Triad, Charlotte
When: Saturday, March 19, 9 a.m.

Doughton.CedarRidgeViewsDoughton Park on the Blue Ridge Escarpment offers an early opportunity for a mountain hike. That’s why this hike is one of only two hikes from our 2015 GetHiking! North Carolina’s Classic Hikes series to make it onto our 2016 GetHiking! The Southeast’s Classic Hikes schedule. Part of the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park, Doughton is one spot along the 469-mile scenic byway better known for hiking than motoring. With 30 miles of trail, this 7,000-acre park offers a variety of ways to explore the gateway to the Appalachians.

Again, we will have two hikes. Both will start from the Longbottom Road Access, at the base of the escarpment. We’ll take the 4.5-mile Cedar Ridge Trail up to the Parkway; a steady climb that, this time of year, before the trees have leafed out, offers views of the Yadkin Valley to the east. At the top, we’ll make a short side trip to the Brinegar Cabin for a bit of history, then head south on the Bluff Mountain Trail. Here, the trail sticks to the ridge, starting in a hemlock forest, then meandering through a series of mountain meadows (channel your inner fraulein Maria ) to Bluff Mountain. The Long Hike will continue along the Bluff Mountain Trail to the Flat Rock Ridge Trail for a total of 18 miles; the Short Hike will head down the Bluff Ridge Primitive Trail and return to the trailhead, a total of 12 miles. This is a fee hike.

Hike leaders: Joe Miller, Anne Triebert
More info here.

GetHiking! Grandfather Mountain: Profile Trail to Swinging Bridge
GetHiking! Triad
When: Saturday, April 9, 9 a.m.

GH.GrandfatherThis 9-mile hike has a little of everything. It starts peacefully enough, along a mountain creek through mature hardwoods. Then it climbs and climbs, switchbacking its way to the ridge, a rough-and-tumble spine of ancient rock. In some spots, you’ll need to climb ladders. In some, you cling to cable to work your way across a steeply sloped rock slab. And there’s the scrambling. No wonder hike leader Jean Hylton advises you should expect a pace of 40- to 50-minute miles. This hike is weather dependent (you don’t want to be atop Grandfather Mountain when dark clouds begin gathering to the west.

Hike leader: Jean Hylton
More info here

In Greenville …

On the horizon

There’s more on our calendar; for details, go here.

  • Hike at Umstead State Park, Raleigh, Saturday, March 19
  • Cycling the Roanoke Canal Trail, Roanoke Rapids, Saturday, March 26
  • Paddle at Merchants Millpond State Park, Gatesville, Saturday, April 2
  • Hike at Medoc Mountain State Park, Hollister, Saturday, April 9
  • Paddle at Goose Creek State Park, Washington, Saturday, April 23


GetHiking! Finding Your Way
GetHiking! Triangle
When: Saturday, March 26, 1 p.m.
Where: Umstead State Park, Harrison Avenue entrance

Love the trail but uncertain about your wayfinding skills? This three-hour session goes over basic map and compass skills, then hits the trail to offer key tips on how to follow and stay on the trail, how to find it again if you stray, and how to explore off trail. We’ll start with a 30-minute map-and-compass introduction, then use that map and compass — and some Daniel Boone skills — to find our way in the woods. We’ll also do some off-trail exploring, with the goal of purposefully venturing off the trail, then rejoining it again. Our goal is to make you confident hiking alone or taking a novice friend on the trail. Course fee of $35 includes a compass.

Hike leader: Joe Miller
More info here

Gear: Ben’s Tick & Insect Repellent

Gear307Temperatures will approach 80 this week; great news for the t-shirt-shorts-and-Chacos set. Great news, too, for the pesky flying insects of the world, who start coming to life as the mercury climbs. What’s not good news for them is Ben’s Tick & Insect Repellent a
water-based repellant that lasts longer than alcohol-based counterparts that evaporate more rapidly. (Expect, on average, about eight hours of coverage. Another advantage to Ben’s: it’s fragrance free; if you’re on the trail in hopes of spotting wildlife, Ben’s won’t tip off your presence like some repellents. Ben’s comes in a variety of sizes — as well as in wipes — but we like the handy 1.25-ounce pump spray, which takes up previous little room in our pack. And, since the bottle is traffic cone orange, it’s easy to find.
More info here.

Tip: Stirring snakes


In addition to warm temperatures igniting the flying pest population, they also activate our no-footed friends of the forest floor: snakes. In the Piedmont, the main snake to be concerned about is the venomous copperhead. The good news about the copperhead: they’re so well camouflaged against leaf litter that you can hike right past one and never know. (That’s meant to be encouraging, btw.)
A few things to keep in mind, snakewise:
If you do spot a snake in these gradually warming temperatures, it’s likely to be stretched across a sunny spot, getting all the warmth it can.
It’s likely to be slow moving. If you come upon one, it may show no intention of moving. Cut it some slack and detour around it.
Be especially watchful in rocky areas and when stepping over downed tree trunks (they’ll sometimes stretch out on the other side, offering quite the surprise).
Leave it be. Take a picture, move on. Snakes play an important role in the ecosystem; let them do their job.

Resource: DEET?

With the flying, biting bug population astir and with our recommendation to ward them off with Ben’s (with the 30 percent DEET concentration) that raises the question: is DEET safe? Yes, says the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, provided you use it properly. Learn how to make that happen and more about DEET in general in this CDC “Fact Sheet for the general public.”