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

GH.Tips_.1208GetHiking! at Night, on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail
Day-Hike Section D, Falls Lake, Raleigh
GetHiking! Triangle
When: Wednesday, Dec. 15, 7 p.m.

Same hike we did last Tuesday night (and the Tuesday night before that), on what the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail refer to as Day-Hike Section D, the 2.8-mile stretch between Bayleaf Church Road and Possum Track Road. Why the same trail? For starters, it’s dark: who’s gonna know? We’ll start from Bayleaf Church Road, hike east for 45 minutes, then about-face and return; about an hour and a half of hiking, for the cyphering impaired. You need a nightlight for this hike; I pack a couple loaners, first come/first accommodated; sign up below. This is a somewhat rolling stretch of trail, with a few instances of roots and rocks but generally in good shape. A good first-time hike for the night-hike novice.

Hike leader: Joe Miller
More info and to sign up, go here.

GetHiking! North Carolina’s Classic Hikes: Mount Mitchell
GetHiking! Charlotte, Triad, Triangle
When: Sunday, Jan. 3, 8:30 a.m.

Mitchell.Snow_What better way to start a new year of adventure than by climbing the highest peak on the East Coast!

That’s how our GetHiking! North Carolina’s Classic Hikes program plans to cap its first year, climbing Mount Mitchell, at 6,684 feet not only the highest point on the East Coast, but the highest point east of South Dakota’s Black Hills. And we aren’t starting from the gift shop for the tenth-of-a-mile walk to the top, either.

Rather, we’ll earn the summit, starting from the Black Mountain Campground and taking the 5.5-mile Mount Mitchell Trail to the summit, gaining more than 3,700 vertical feet in the process. The trail doubles as the Mountains-to-Sea Trail: for the first 4-plus miles it’s mostly a steady progression of switchbacks on mostly civil tread. The last mile or so, the trail takes a more direct approach as it climbs through a spruce-fir forest. In addition to the 5.5 miles up, there’s the 5.5 miles back down, making for an 11-mile day.

There could be snow and ice: for that reason, traction devices will be required for this hike (see Gear of the Week, below). The emagazine for this hike will include a gear list specific to this hike. The emag will go out by week’s end.

This is a challenging hike with a steady climb to the summit. Temperatures will likely be in the 30s (or colder), there could be snow.

The hike is part of our GetHiking! North Carolina’s Classic Hikes series (see below for more information). It will be the last hike in this series of 12 hikes for 2015.

This is a fee program; there is a per-hike charge of $25. The fee includes a swag bag, monthly enewsletter and discounts on hiking gear at Great Outdoor Provision Co. You will be sent a PayPal invoice upon signing up for this hike.

Estimated drive time: Charlotte: 2 hours, 20 minutes; Greensboro: 2 hours, 50 minutes; Raleigh: 3 hours, 50 minutes. Registration for this hike closes Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 9 a.m.

Hike leader: Joe Miller
More info here.

Meanwhile, in the Greenville area …

We’re taking a hiatus until the after the first of the year. Until then, we’ll clue you in to some great programs at our nearby North Carolina State Parks.


Jones-Lake-State-Park-1Intro to Carolina Bays, Jones Lake State Park, Elizabethtown
A ranger discusses the geological mysteries of the Carolina Bays that dot the East Coast. Also discussed: the natural communities associated with Carolina Bays.
When: Saturday, Dec. 19, 3 p.m.
More info here.

Animals of Pettigrew State Park, Pettigrew State Park, Columbia.
Who all lives at Pettigrew State Park? Come find out.
When: Sunday, Dec. 20, call for time.
More info here.

GetBackpacking! on MLK Weekend?: Backpackers’ choice (see below)
When: Jan. 15-18.

Overlooking Hot Springs from the Appalachian Trail, at Lover's Leap
Overlooking Hot Springs from the Appalachian Trail, at Lover’s Leap

The GetBackpacking! community has spoken: we will spend the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend on the Appalachian Trail.

Late Friday, we will camp on or near Max Patch. Saturday, we will hike about 12 miles to Garenflo Gap (or thereabouts). Sunday, we will continue on into Hot Springs, noodle about a bit, then continue to the Rich Mountain area (about 15 miles). Monday, we hike out, on the Roundtop Ridge Trail, back to Hot Springs, about 5 miles.

Daily mileages will vary depending upon how far we hike in Friday evening (yes, a bit of night hiking is involved). Total distance: 32 miles.

More detailed information will be provided in the December GetBackpacking! enewsletter; if you are not a subscriber, email and we’ll get you on the list (it’s free and we don’t distribute our circulation list). You can also find details on this trip in “Backpacking North Carolina” (2011, UNC Press), Trip Nos. 25 & 26.

We will hold a trip planning meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Great Outdoor Provision Co. store in Raleigh’s Cameron Village.

Gear of the week: Traction devices


We love to hike in winter, and we’re not about to let a little thing like snow and ice keep us off the trail, especially when there are several economical over-the-boot traction devices that provide grip on a slippery trail. But which one to get? The answer, it appears, depends in part on the conditions you’ll be hiking in. If you’re on a trail that likely will be icy and snowy throughout, then slip-ons with metal spikes appear to be the answer. Microspikes, for instance, get good reviews for durability and grip in ice and snow. The downside: if you go back and forth between snow and ice and rock surface, the spikes wear down quickly. Then there’s the spring coil-type devices, such as Yaktrax, which get their traction from coils wound around rubber bands. They go back and forth from snow and ice to hard surface more easily, but can slip off and snap. One advantage to the latter? Price. Yaktrax run about $30, Microspikes about $70.

Tip of the week: Shuttle hikes: d’oh!


We do a lot of shuttle hikes: meeting at trail’s end, piling into aa few a number of cars as possible, then driving to the trailhead. At the end, most people have their cars, at least one of whom can take back the folks who drove to the trail head. The approach lets us do more point-to-point hikes rather than out-and-backs, thus, covering twice the terrain in the same amount of mileage. The classic shuttle is simple and easy to arrange, but one thing sometimes gets overlooked: the speed of the hikers involved. Typically, we hike at different speeds, with the group often separating into three, four, five small groups. One thing you don’t want is to have all the hikers who take a more leisurely pace drive to the trailhead. The fast hikers get to the end of the trail, their cars are there, they drive home. The leisure class arrives and — d’oh! Our cars are all back at the start! One more thing to think about, but an important thing.

Resource of the Week: New Year’s Day Hikes

First Day Hike at Raven Rock State Park
First Day Hike at Raven Rock State Park

Planning your New Year’s Day festivities and wondering about group hikes? Odds are there’s a New Year’s Day hike near you, thanks to the North Carolina State Parks’ First Day Hikes. Initiated a few years back, nearly all state parks now have a ranger-led hike on Jan. 1. Find a First Day Hike near you, here.