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Take a hike: Walk into North Carolina’s great outdoors
Day trip to state-owned parks and forests
 
Published Thursday, November 29, 2018 4:43 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY
Entrance to Dupont State Recreational Forest, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Go outside this winter.


Outdoor opportunities abound in North Carolina, from the coast to the mountains. Try these three suggestions, all within two and a half hours from Charlotte.


1) Dupont State Recreational Forest
A state forest is not the same as a state park, although they may offer similar recreational activities. A state forest may allow hunting, and harvesting resources like trees. A state park’s purpose focuses on preservation, and hunting is not permitted.


Both can offer fantastic hiking, like this 10,400-acre forest.


Dupont’s a little over two hours from Charlotte, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It includes five lakes and elevations ranging from 2,240 feet at Cascade Lake to 3,620 feet at Stone Mountain’s peak.


Two of its five waterfalls–Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls–may look familiar from the first “Hunger Games” film. Visiting the forest is free. It is open daily from 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Try the trails on foot, horseback or mountain bike.


For more information:


www.ncforestservice.gov/Contacts/dsf.htm


2) South Mountains State Park
Fifteen of North Carolina’s 41 state parks are in the western region. Roughly 90 minutes from Charlotte, if you need a place to fall off the map without straying too far, this is it. If you seek an overnight escape, take your pick of the park’s 20 backpacking campsites at six locations—you can even bring horses.


South Mountains offers 33 miles of trails for those on horseback. If you prefer to have two wheels under you instead of four legs, take a mountain bike on a 17-mile loop.
Stretch before you tackle the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail, though. The view of the 80-foot waterfall is definitely worth it. Over 40 miles of trails reach as high as 3,000 feet in elevation.


Note: Closed on Christmas Day; open 364 days a year; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. December through February


For more information:


www.ncparks.gov/south-mountains-state-park


3) Crowders Mountain State Park
A quick 45-minute drive from Charlotte, Crowders is a simple route, with a beautiful view of the city’s skyline. On a clear day, a 25-mile view stretches out before you.


Decide which of the 11 trails you want to tackle, or camp out. Take a moment to fish in the nine-acre lake. Spend an afternoon bouldering or rock climbing—with the proper permits.
Note: Closed on Christmas day; open every other day; 7 a.m.-6 p.m. December through February.


For more information:
www.ncparks.gov/crowders-mountain-state-park

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