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  1. #1
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    Default Training hikes in Central NC

    I live in the Sandhills of NC, so I have to travel a couple hours at least to get to a mountain. I usually look for loop trails with lots of small hills when I'm hiking for exercise. Can anybody suggest tough trails in Central NC for this purpose? These are the ones I'm already using
    Raven Rock Park, Lillington
    San-Lee Park mountain bike loop, Sanford
    Birkhead Mountain Wilderness, Asheboro
    Uwharrie National Forest figure 8, Troy
    You can walk in another person's shoes, but only with your feet

  2. #2
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    How far is Pilot Mountain? The hike from the bottom to the top makes a nice training hike. Start at the visitor's center and take the Grindstone trail to the top, get off on the Ledge Spring Trail and walk along the climbing walls under the summit, then take the Jomeokee Trail around Big Pinnacle, then back through the parking area at the top (restroom break), down through the picnic area, and pick up the Grindstone Trail to go back. It's a decent morning hike with some good strenuous spots. The park trail map makes this hike pretty obvious.
    Ken B
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    How far is Pilot Mountain? The hike from the bottom to the top makes a nice training hike. Start at the visitor's center and take the Grindstone trail to the top, get off on the Ledge Spring Trail and walk along the climbing walls under the summit, then take the Jomeokee Trail around Big Pinnacle, then back through the parking area at the top (restroom break), down through the picnic area, and pick up the Grindstone Trail to go back. It's a decent morning hike with some good strenuous spots. The park trail map makes this hike pretty obvious.
    It's about 2 hours from us. I've done that hike with my daughter. I got a little freaked out when one of the climbers knocked a rock loose and it bounced past us. Great work out hike, though
    You can walk in another person's shoes, but only with your feet

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    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by devoidapop View Post
    It's about 2 hours from us. I've done that hike with my daughter. I got a little freaked out when one of the climbers knocked a rock loose and it bounced past us. Great work out hike, though
    Oh yeah, I can see that happening. Heads up!
    Ken B
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  5. #5

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    looks like you are 4.5 hours from NOC. Which is also very close to Fontana. The climbs out of NOC in either direction would make for a great workout hike. They are not little climbs but 1 BIG climb in either direction. As well, the Climb out of Fontana Damn is a bugger up past shuckstack pretty much all the way to mollies ridge shelter. In reverse of that, the climb Southbound from NC28 near Fontana dam is a bugger as well. Both NOC as well as Fontana offer some lodging opportunities as well as some food. I think more so in NOC but if you have a car with you then you could drive to get dinner etc.

    EDIT: Also I would like to add that over in Brevard, NC is the Art Loeb Trail and is quite a strenuous hike. 30 miles and 9k" elevation. If you wanted to know the best part of that 30 miles to do it is hands down from Black balsam walking toward the boy scout camp(about 12 miles to the northern terminus). But if you want to do it from a exercise POV, I would start at the boy scout camp and head south toward black balsam, when on top of black balsam you are at the end of the balds and could turn around and head back to the car. I am assuming you are looking for day hikes for some reason lol
    Last edited by Gambit McCrae; 12-27-2017 at 16:18.

  6. #6
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    In SC, Kings Mt. State Park and National Park have a perimeter loop trail that is about 20 miles, plus there are other trails that criss cross the property. This system connects up with NC Crowder's Mt. State park with what I think is called the Ridge Line trail which is about 10-12 miles long. Check those places out. They are perfect for winter and shoulder season overnights.

  7. #7

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    I'm not far from you, and have done most of the hikes you mention.

    Some other possibilities -

    You've already been near Morrow Mtn State Park (Albemarle, NC) - there are some loop hikes that take you up over some modest peaks (Hattaway, Sugerloaf) and a long bridle trail that can be used to connect them - you could design a hike of almost any distance / vertical gain.

    I'm a big fan of Eno River State Park (Durham) - a bit further for you, but the Eno is so rocky you'll think you're in the foothills. The NW portion of the park has several loops that can be combined for a decent distance, or you can head for the SE section, park at Pleasant Green, and follow the Laurel Bluffs trail along the river for as as many miles as you'd like.

    Both Morrow and Eno have some backcountry primitive campsites if you'd like to make it an overnight.

    Two more recommendations -

    I love the Haw River - again, so rocky you'll think you're much closer to the mountains than you are. Park at the small lot on Hwy 64 east on the eastern bank of the river and follow the eastern bank of the river north for 4-5 miles to the town of Bynum and then return (you can cross the river in Bynum and return via the western bank, but the trail isn't nearly as well developed and there is a fair bit of bushwhacking).

    Finally, the MST follows Falls Lake for a few dozen miles - hard to set-up a loop, so will be mostly out-and-backs - but the trail is meanders in and out of the coves, very scenic.

    No elevation gain on the Haw or the MST along Falls Lake, so might not fit your objectives - but beautiful spots.

  8. #8
    Registered User The Old Chief's Avatar
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    The New Hope Trail on Jordan Lake is fairly close to you and appears to offer overnight camping. They rate the trail as moderate.

    https://www.ncparks.gov/jordan-lake-...on-area/trails

  9. #9

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    Raven Rocks SP near Lillington provides some elevation changes in the 150-200' range (?). Up I-95 about 20 miles northwest of Rocky Mount is Medoc Mountain SP. It has several nice loop trails which can be stitched together to form at least 10-12 miles, and maybe 200' of elevation change from the creek floodplain to the top of the mountain.

    AO

  10. #10
    Registered User C-Stepper's Avatar
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    I live in Apex (just west of Raleigh). Hanging Rock State Park is exactly 2 hrs from me. Fun, great workout. Stone Mountain State Park is a little further but worth it. Love Eno and Raven Rock, but not very challenging terrain.

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    Default Training hikes in Central NC

    I forgot to mention Occoneechee Mountain SP in Hillsboro. The loop is not long but the climb up from the river is fairly steep. My little ones love that trail.
    You can walk in another person's shoes, but only with your feet

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by C-Stepper View Post
    I live in Apex (just west of Raleigh). Hanging Rock State Park is exactly 2 hrs from me. Fun, great workout. Stone Mountain State Park is a little further but worth it. Love Eno and Raven Rock, but not very challenging terrain.
    I really like Stone Mountain SP. I'm hoping to take the family there for a couple days this summer.
    You can walk in another person's shoes, but only with your feet

  13. #13
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    Default Hanging Rock State Park

    Hanging Rock State Park is closer to you than Pilot Mountain and has more trails. It is as rugged as anything on the AT in NC.
    The "back side" is an especially good hike.

  14. #14
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    The Mountains to Sea Trail.

    You can hike from the eastern section of Eno River SP to Falls Lake Dam on continuous trail(only a detour at Redwood Road due to a sinkhole in road). Contains 3 primitive campsites and 2 SP campgrounds along the trail. Right around 60 miles. Winter/Spring time are great.

    You can continue onward to Clayton on the Neuse River Trail Greenway for an extra 30 miles. No camping though. MST trail guide provides lodging info along the section.

    South Mtn SP is a good looper. Umstead SP has a huge loop system of trails and horse/biking roads.

    Other than that Morrow Mtn SP has some hills. Small trails though.
    ''Tennessee Viking'
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  15. #15
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    This is not to be a joke. Hiking up and down soft sandhills like the dunes of a beach in full backpacking gear regalia is very good backpacking training. If you can do it in the rain or high winds or cold safely for increasingly longer hrs up to 12-14 hrs combined with camping those nights after doing it outside all the better. All too often those wishing to backpack train forget to avail themselves of what's readily nearby or available. Think Clubber Lang in Rocky 3 or Rocky in Rocky IV. We can use what's available. When I lived in Tampa I'd hike in the Gulf about knee deep up to waist deep in 2 ft waves wearing old trail runners and a loaded pack, on the beach in soft sand wearing the same, and combine it with steep bridge yo yo hikes. Sure, I got out to some nice single track but that was the exception. When I could do this joyfully all the better.


    Bicycling and walking to get places that you're accustomed to doing in a motor vehicle also build both the mind and body. Wearing a pack to get your groceries while doing either builds backpacking strength and familiarity. Incorporating these approaches in foul weather all the better.


    Don't forget backpacking is also about training your mind to embrace new or expanded comfort zones as well as familiarizing yourself with your kit. This can be done starting or perfected in your backyard. One of the hardest things backpackers can have, particularly if they're from the U.S. is managing the mind to embrace new comfort zones for a sustained duration.

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    Would 2nd the New Hope Overlook trail at Jordan Lake...5.5 miles of hilly terrain.

    Love the Uwharries for a quick weekend get-a-way trip as well...doing the Uwharrie National Trail (around 20 miles) on Feb 3-4.

  17. #17
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    I do my training hikes at Umstead State Park here in Raleigh. There is trail access with plenty of parking right off of I-40. The Company Mill Trail is a 6-mile loop which I try to complete in 2 hours with full pack, and the Sycamore Trail is an 8-mile loop which I try to complete in 3 hours. Both trails have only modest elevation changes, but trying to keep a 3 mph pace makes up for it (I usually average more like 2 mph on the AT).
    It's all good in the woods.

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    Another great place to go is the Neusiok trail down between Havelock and Beaufort. It is roughly 25 miles, I think. Been a few years. And there are a few shelter campsites with water. Boy scouts like to use that trail for training hikes. Not real tough, but may be muddy, hot, skeeters, copperheads, and big ass rattlesnakes. So can kinda help prepare for the AT! Let me know if you'd like a hiking partner in this area around Sanford. I like hitting Raven Rock and Uwharrie when I can.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2NewKnees View Post
    Another great place to go is the Neusiok trail down between Havelock and Beaufort. It is roughly 25 miles, I think. Been a few years. And there are a few shelter campsites with water. Boy scouts like to use that trail for training hikes. Not real tough, but may be muddy, hot, skeeters, copperheads, and big ass rattlesnakes. So can kinda help prepare for the AT! Let me know if you'd like a hiking partner in this area around Sanford. I like hitting Raven Rock and Uwharrie when I can.
    This is a trail I've been meaning to get out to. How slow is the going? Can you do the 25 in a day in February or March when the bugs and snakes aren't around?
    You can walk in another person's shoes, but only with your feet

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2NewKnees View Post
    Let me know if you'd like a hiking partner in this area around Sanford. I like hitting Raven Rock and Uwharrie when I can.
    I'm game. I usually try to hike Sunday mornings and on Mondays. I'm tied up this weekend but PM if you want to hit one of these trails later this month.
    You can walk in another person's shoes, but only with your feet

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