The 5 best trails to hike this year on Take a Walk in the Park Day

Happy Take a Walk in the Park Day, Bobcats! Celebrated each year on March 30, this holiday is all about  finding easy and accessible ways to focus on your physical health and enjoy the beauty of nature and your community.

As the weather slowly begins to warm in the High Country, make the most of Take a Walk in the Park Day this year with these five “park walks” in and around Lees-McRae.

1. The Banner Elk Greenway

With just over one mile of trail, the Banner Elk Greenway is a perfect trail for those who are looking for a relaxing, low-stress walk. The trail begins at Tate-Evans Park and is perfect for the whole family, featuring playgrounds, wading pools, picnic tables, and more along its length.

2. Buckeye Creek Loop

This moderate difficulty hike is just under two miles long, and loops around Buckeye Lake. The loop provides lovely views of the lake and is a great trail for families and individuals alike to enjoy a fishing day on the water. Fishing licenses are required for those over 16, but a three-day Mountain Heritage Trout Water license can be purchased for  $8 from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission website. This license permits fishing in Buckeye Creek and Pond Creek.

3. Hemlock Trail to Hidden Boulder

Created by Lees-McRae students during Mountain Day of Service several years ago, Hidden Boulder is one of the college’s on-campus rock climbing sites. Hidden Boulder serves as a way for beginner climbers to practice their skills in a fun, low-stakes environment and can be accessed via Hemlock Trail. This walk is a perfect opportunity to get your steps in both horizontally on the trail and vertically on the rock!

4. Wild Iris trail at Beech Mountain

Follow in the footsteps of Lees-McRae students past and hike this moderate difficulty trail up Beech Mountain. When Mountain Day was first started by Lees-McRae founder Rev. Edgar Tufts, a 5-mile hike to the top of Beech Mountainwas part of the tradition. At only 2.5 miles, Wild Iris is an easier route that still allows you to honor tradition. Pack a picnic to eat along the way to complete the experience. According to Margaret Tufts Neal in her book on the definitive history of the college, “And Set Aglow a Sacred Flame,” “there was always a wagon pulled by Maude and Mac, the school’s team of faithful horses, with great baskets and tubs of lunch.”

5. Linville Peak via Profile Trail

This challenging trail in Grandfather Mountain State Park is known for its stunning views at the peak. At just over 10 miles, this trail is best for advanced hikers who are looking to backpack and camp along the route. Former student Juan Sebastian Restrepo ’21 wrote a thorough guide to navigating the complicated trail after climbing to its peak in the summer of 2021.

By Maya JarrellMarch 30, 2022
CommunityCampus Life