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Into the Woods

You know I can't visit a destination without having at least one post about hiking, and Winston-Salem is centrally located for getting out into the woods in any direction. State parks are free here and, as with most places, the crowds tend to be congregated in the first half mile of any trailhead. Beyond that, there are miles and miles of wonderful trails all to yourself. Most of the trails are perfect for running - nice ups and downs without being too steep and just the right amount of roots and rocks to keep your brain engaged without being so many that you have to walk. The forests aren't dense, so you can keep your eyes peeled for bears and the (probably non-existent) Carolina panther. You will sometimes hear target shooting, unfortunately, and sometimes too close to the trails for comfort. But for the most part, I was really happy with the trails I found.

Pilot Mountain State Park

butte surrounded by forest and mist

Boone's Cave State Park

woman on a bench in the forest

Lake Norman State Park

tiny island in a lake with the sun overhead

Reedy Creek Nature Preserve

woman wearing sunglasses in the woods

The western portion of the state has the most incredible hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway and beyond. I stopped at a few places on my over from Tennessee, but mostly decided to save that part of the state for another trip because of the camping issues. If you're used to camping in the west like I am where you can pitch your tent or curl up in your car for the night just about anywhere you want, you're going to be disappointed in North Carolina. Legal dispersed camping appears to not be a thing, sadly. And what little backcountry camping is available requires a permit that has to be obtained in advanced. I'm not super interested in paying $35/night to be in some campground surrounded by the not-so-soothing sounds of generators and RV engines. So those beautiful hikes will have to wait for some future extended trip to Asheville.

Blue Ridge Parkway

tree and mist covered hills

Waterrock Knob & Brown's Knob

downed, rusted out small airplane in the woods