By Emma Castleberry
The blazing heat of summer has passed and now we get to enjoy the milder temperatures and beautiful, slanting light of autumn. This month of perfect climate also features National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 26—another perfect excuse for an outdoor excursion.
There are plenty of safe, socially distanced ways to enjoy the outdoors this September. Here are a few choices.
Black Mountain’s Arm’s Length Adventures
Black Mountain Recreation and Parks (BMRP) has launched a new series of socially distanced, local adventures. “During this stressful, and sometimes scary time, it is of utmost importance that individuals get outdoors,” says Clint Bowman, recreation coordinator for BMRP. “Going on adventures like these has ample benefits for one’s mental and physical health, and we’re super excited to offer an opportunity for individuals to experience these benefits in a safe environment.”
This series features three different activities each week through September 14: a waterfall hike, a bike ride and a river clean-up. The Wednesday Waterfall hikes include Linville and Duggar Falls on September 2 and Crabtree Falls on September 9. The hikes will be guided by Bowman and Collin Bugniazet, a recreation coordinator with BMRP and a professional photographer. The Friday River Clean-Ups include Flat Creek Greenway on September 4 and Veterans Park on September 11. All clean-up supplies will be provided by BMRP. There will be one bike ride in September, at Point Lookout on Monday, September 14, guided by Bowman.
Registration is limited to ten participants and there will be additional safety and sanitation measures in place. “All registered participants will have their temperature checked, will sanitize regularly and will socially distance themselves while participating in each program,” says Bowman.
Virtual Cradle to Grave 10K and 30K
The classic Cradle to Grave footrace to benefit the Cradle of Forestry will take place virtually this year. Participants can access route maps on the Cradle of Forestry website and log their times between Saturday, September 5, and Saturday, September 12. “With so many unknowns around things we have always taken for granted, we wanted to make sure that this classic foot race was a safe option that folks could look forward to,” says Clay Wooldridge, director of operations for the Cradle of Forestry.
Both the 10K and 30K race follow the same route for the first 4 miles, following the Forest Festival Trail on the campus of the Cradle of Forestry, then onto the biodiverse Pink Beds Loop. “The 10K folks complete the Pink Beds Loop, ending at the Cradle amphitheater, while the 30K runners are just warming up,” says Wooldridge. “The 30K continues on deep into the Pisgah National Forest, onto the Pilot Cove Loop, where runners can catch the view from Slate Rock and then back to complete the other side of the Pink Beds Loop.” The race will be unsupported this year, so it will require greater preparation by the runners and the map routes will be very detailed.
National Public Lands Day Virtual Hike with SAHC
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) will host a virtual hike in the Highlands of Roan. This guided video hike will explore the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail and the Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area. The video, along with appearances from special guests, tips on enjoying the route, biological highpoints and information about SAHC’s work to conserve public lands, can be found on the SAHC website.