For many years, my family and I have been blessed to live and vacation near areas where there were beautiful wilderness trails. Our family often went out for a walk in the woods, mostly on short walks through rich forests or along creeks.
One thing that I have always enjoyed was trekking through wilderness areas. After we relocated to western North Carolina, I was determined to get started with hiking again. Living here, we are within a short distance to some of the best day hikes in the region.
Whether you like mountains or waterfalls, vistas or nature, the wilderness holds many opportunities for one to explore and experience. This particular region has it all.
My Favorite Day Hike
My favorite day hike in this area is a simple stroll up and around Whiteside Mountain, which is just outside the Highlands in North Carolina. It’s a bit vertical to start, but not strenuous. When you get to the top, the vistas along the ridgeline trail are Spectacular!
There are plenty of places to take beautiful pictures and for the adventurous, like me, there are a few off-trail excursions that will take you out onto large rock outcroppings where you can sit, eat lunch and take in the sights and sounds of nature in all its grandeur. On a clear day, the mountain vistas are captivating.
There are, of course several other places we like to visit. The waterfalls here are magnificent and we always like to hike in and spend some time there. We can eat lunch, and in some areas, we can go swimming. We have a lot of favorite waterfall treks. Some are a bit more remote than others and as such a bit more demanding than a simply walking along a trail.
Where To Begin – What Do You Want To Experience.
For anyone who wants to get started with hiking, I would recommend you select an easy, not too long trail that will take you into a forest, along a river or through a field. I think it’s best to start out in one of our fabulous state parks. You can select a trail that holds a particular appeal or something you want to see like a waterfall, river, creek, or mountain vista.
You can find plenty of trails in every state that range from short and easy walks, to longer, more strenuous treks. There are trails through all the state parks. There are some great walks through historical areas. Some trails guide you along the coast and others across the plains and the hills. No matter your interests, you will find quiet trails that satisfy your curiosity and desires.
You will want to take along a backpack and fill it with some snacks and water. You may want to bring along a camera, or use your cell phone so you can take some pictures of the things that interest you. Today, taking “selfies” along the trail is a great way to capture the experience and be able to recall the memories and feelings.
Something else to consider is the weather. It’s not unusual that weather changes along a hike, so you probably want to keep a lite rain jacket or windbreaker handy. Depending on the season, you can add other items to the backpack you might need or want. Just remember though, you are carrying it, and really, on short day hikes, you don’t really need a complete wilderness pack-out.
Something a lot of hikers like to do is journal along the trail. They write down particular interests or things that happened during their hike. This is a great way, later on, to recall and reflect on your hike and what you experienced.
Don’t be afraid to bring your dog along, if you have one. Be sure keep it on a leash though, because there will be all sorts of pop-up distractions that they want to chase after. It will also be “trail friendly” when you pass other folks on the trail.
What To Expect – Nature Has Its Own Rhythm
When you venture out on you first day hike, you should expect to trek along an established trail. It may seem a bit intimidating at first. You will immediately notice the silence and freshness of nature all around you.
When you go out for a wilderness trek, be sure to wear comfortable hiking footwear. Sandals and sneakers may be OK for short, level, well-established trails. But, if you venture out into more remote wilderness trails you should have good hiking shoes. Your legs and feet will thank you for that.
Walking along a trail provides you with a sense of inner-peace and you find yourself reflecting on all sorts of things. Take your time. There is no rush to complete the hike. When you get to a place where you can sit and refresh, grab your snacks and drink some water. Just sitting in the wilderness has a special effect.
You should not begin a day hike by trying to make any particular destination on a time schedule. Take time to look around and take in all that nature holds in store for you. You’re going out to experience the adventure and spender of the wilderness, not complete a tasking.
Where To Find Trails
I like to hike in state parks. They might be historical like the Gettysburg Battleground or wilderness campgrounds like the Standing Indian, here in North Carolina. These are typically the bast places for those new to wilderness treks to start. The internet has listings of all the state parks in the country. You merely have to select a park near you that has the kind of trails you want to explore. State parks usually have their own website and there you can research the kinds of trails and attractions that they have that interest you.
There are many wilderness experiences to explore:
- Mountain trails
- Waterfall trails
- River trails
- Historical trails
- Camping rails
Everyone has a particular interest and the parks across America have trails to satisfy them. Remember though, if you are just getting into day hiking, you probably want to start simple. Don’t go out for a 7-mile trek on your first journey. That might not be too rewarding. Pick some trail “Loops”. These are typically 1 to 3 mile treks around an area that has lots to see and explore.
One advantage of venturing out on an established trail loop at a state park is that you can’t get lost! I know that sounds a bit funny but trust me, if you are new to wilderness trekking, going out on a remote wilderness trail may result in more than you bargained for. Wherever you journey, just remember to plan it so you have all the time you want to enjoy you trek.
Wilderness Hikes Are Enriching
I am thrilled to be able to get started with hiking the trails again. For many years, my family and I have ventured out to see waterfalls, experience high mountain panoramas and even go swimming in mountain rivers. This has always been a favorite of ours. The fresh mountain waters are a bit cold, but refreshing after a long walk.
I have always felt a special calling to the wilderness. When I go out on a day hike, I am invigorated and enriched. I feel more relaxed and in touch with everything around me. Everyone who gets out on a trail will retain their own special recollections. I encourage everyone to get started with hiking because t’s fun — it’s relaxing and most of all….it’s uniquely personal.
When you venture out for a day, I promise you a lovely beginning to discovering America along its wilderness trails.
I hope to see you along the trail!