One positive of the past few years has been having the time to explore many more places within our state, and a lot of new hiking spots. Here are some parks and nature preserves we have explored this year, along with some that are still on our to-do list! They are all located within 2 hours (most closer to 1 hour or less) from North Carolina’s Triad area of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point.
Mayo River State Park
A short 10 minute hike to the beautiful Fall Creek Falls pictured below. Small parking lot, so get there early if you visit on the weekend.
Several short loop trails, volleyball courts, soccer and baseball fields, horseshoe pits, a nice disc-golf course and a bouldering park for children.
Multiple well-marked trails and also paved miles of Greenway for running and biking.
Rich Fork Preserve
Lots of historical buildings, some creek crossings, and nice bridges along the trails. Popular for mountain biking.
This one has a more remote feel to it and has fun spots to play in the river and a rope bridge. Small parking lot.
Salem Lake Trail
Beautiful 7 mile loop trail around the lake. Very popular with both hikers and bikers, so if you're walking a dog, make sure they stay out of the way of bikers.
You can walk out on the overlook to see the beautiful views of the quarry and there are paved paths here that take you down to the bottom of the quarry.
Several miles of nice trails here right by the water and a great place to spot turtles.
A nice paved area to walk around the lake – the loop is around 2-3 miles and this park connects to Country Park.
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
A good place to brush up on your local history with the monuments and statues, a lot of nice trails here, both paved and in the woods, and a great location to spot deer.
Gateway Nature Preserve
This has both paved paths and trails in the woods, a dog park, and an outdoor fitness park.
Richardson Taylor Preserve
One mile loop and a 3+ mile trail that is fairly strenuous due to all the hills and switchbacks.
Guilford County Farm
Interesting spot where you can hike the prison trail, spot a lot of birds, and maybe even a snapping turtle like we did. Much of the trail is out in the open but it goes into the woods at the end.
A large park with 2 hiking loops that are at least one mile each, a large disc golf course, dog park, and volleyball court.
Knight Brown Nature Preserve
This is in an unexpected spot at the end of neighborhood - the Creekside Loop is pretty but can be muddy.
Gravel trails in the woods with outdoor fitness stations along the way.
Haw River State Park
A prime spot for birdwatching and a nice lake area as well with hiking paths all around it.
Some historic areas here and paths in the grass fields and through the woods, but beware of mosquitoes!
Company Mill Preserve
The best part is the waterfall at the start of the trail and the nice boardwalks, along with the fact that this park connects to Hagan-Stone Park.
Bold Moon Preserve
You’ll probably have this place all to yourself – the half mile path to the creek is incredibly serene but bring a stick for spiderwebs.
Chinqua-Penn Walking Trail
So many different types of scenery on this trail – ponds, historic mill stones, bridges, a bamboo forest, cows, old stone structures and more. Site of the annual Running of the Cows 5k.
Boone’s Cave Park
Several challenging trails here along with some shorter ones by the water – Daniel Boone hid out in these caves, according to local legend.
Hanging Rock State Park
Great place to hike and camp, but gets incredibly crowded on the main trail. The views from the top are stunning and you can also find several waterfalls. Watch out for copperheads!
Purgatory Mountain Trail Head
This trail is located in the parking lot of the NC Zoo – the first section is flat, but pretty much straight up after that – the top is under construction to have a viewing tower in the future.
Stone Mountain State Park
1.4 miles to the summit is grueling with a lot of switchbacks (trekking poles and water recommended), but the view is spectacular!
Pilot Mountain State Park
A lot of challenging trails here. You can drive partially to the top and start there or drive all the way to the top, but it can be very foggy. Some areas were recently closed due to fires.
Matrimony Creek Greenway
Located in Eden which is just north of the Triad, this greenway is peaceful and flat, with a lot of large boulders going along the creek.
NC Parks & Trails Still On Our List
- Great Bend Park
- Guilford Mackintosh Park
- Falls Lake State Recreation Area
- Tot Hill Farm Trailhead
- New River State Park
- Three Top Mountain Game Lands
- Birkhead Mountains Wilderness
- Cedarock Park
- Faith Rock
- Jumping Off Rock Trailhead
- Saxapaw Island Park
- Yadkin Memorial Park
- Carolina Thread Trail
- Carter Falls Trailhead
- Power House Trailhead
- Buffalo Creek Preserve
- Cumberland Knob, Gully Creek Trailhead
- South Mountains State Park
Do you have any favorite trails or suggestions for any parks and preserves I should add to my list?