Searching for a new-to-us trail that didn’t require a long drive, my daughter and I discovered Haw River State Park. This park has two entrances, and they do not connect within the park itself. You must drive to get from one set of trails to the other. The day started out rainy, but we persevered, and the sun finally put in an appearance.
We began our outing at The Summit to check out the Welcome Center and put boots to mud on the Wetlands Boardwalk. It’s a short but lovely walk over the wetlands to the headwaters of the Haw River. Leaving the boardwalk, we continued on the Piedmont Loop Trail, which included a floodplain swamp that was made more interesting by the elevated water levels. Following weeks of rain, an abundance of lichen and moss put on a show. As expected, the marked paths boasted standing water and even running water in a few places. Attention to foot placement in the slippery mud was a priority. The oak and hickory forest made for a peaceful walk, though the birds were rather boisterous once the sun came out.
We left The Summit and drove to the Iron Ore Belt Access in another section of the park. There we ate lunch and walked the Great Blue Heron Loop Trail. This path meanders through more wetlands and forests.
All total, we hiked 5.6 miles on the well-marked trails. There are no mountain top views but, the reasonably level terrain gave ample opportunity for enjoying nature. The trails provided picnic tables and benches if you wanted to hike to a picnic destination, just be sure to clean up after you eat.
If you make the trip, and I highly recommend you do, be sure to check a map before you go. Don’t rely on GPS. Though mine is current, it failed both going and coming. Since I had taken the time to look over a map of the area, it wasn’t a problem, but if I hadn’t, I would have been driving around the county with no clue where I was or where I wanted to be.
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