• Trails, Triumphs, and Teaching: The Journey of Benjy “Doc” Brown on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

    Trails, Triumphs, and Teaching: The Journey of Benjy “Doc” Brown on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

    Benjy “Doc” Brown is not just a lifelong resident but also an ardent adventurer. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) caught Benjy’s attention in 2018. Driven by passion and determination, he decided to section hike the entire 1,175-mile trail (hiking it piece by piece as time allows), and by May 2020, Brown had achieved his ambitious goal…

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  • The 3 1/2 Year (and Counting) Streak

    The 3 1/2 Year (and Counting) Streak

    Is it possible to accidentally have a 3-1/2-year streak of daily outdoor exercise? Well, it’s complicated…follow along as Jeff Rezeli recounts firsthand how his wife has consistently made it outside every single day for what’s soon to be four years amidst challenging conditions that involved a whole lot more than just inclement weather.

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  • A Testament of Resilience and Adaptation on the Trail

    A Testament of Resilience and Adaptation on the Trail

    For everyone, a trail adventure begins with a decision, a commitment to step into nature and embrace the journey ahead. Mary’s initial commitment to the MST ignited a flame of passion and connection to the trail that would prove unyielding in the face of obstacles and challenges. Follow along as Mary tells her incredibly inspiring…

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  • Taking Learning Outdoors: Merrick-Moore Elementary

    Taking Learning Outdoors: Merrick-Moore Elementary

    In an era where technology often dominates educational discourse, Merrick-Moore Elementary in Durham Public Schools (DPS) is offering a distinctive approach centered around outdoor education. At the forefront of this initiative is Stephen Mullaney, a teacher with a deep appreciation for the outdoors, who champions the idea that nature can be an enriching educational tool.

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  • Putting Love for the Outdoors to Test: Every Day on a Trail

    Putting Love for the Outdoors to Test: Every Day on a Trail

    When The Great Trails State Coalition announced 2023 would be the Year of the Trail, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to put my love of the outdoors to the test. Now at the age of forty-two, I also needed a new challenge. My goal became to simply be on some kind of trail…

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  • Tails and Trails: Montgomery County’s Hiking Hope for Shelter Dogs

    Tails and Trails: Montgomery County’s Hiking Hope for Shelter Dogs

    Montgomery County, home to the majority of this beautiful forest, thrives as a scenic jewel in central NC. While it offers a diverse range of forest activities, the county faces challenges due to its sparse population and limited resources. This is particularly evident in the realm of animal care, where the local shelter continuously seeks…

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  • What Trails Mean to Me: Ultra Runner Ciara Wilder Massingale’s Inspiring Journey

    What Trails Mean to Me: Ultra Runner Ciara Wilder Massingale’s Inspiring Journey

    A mere two years ago, Ciara embarked on a path that would challenge her in ways she couldn’t have fathomed. “While I have always had a love of being in nature since I was a child, it wasn’t until two years ago that my life began to completely transform because of trails! On August 2,…

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  • Resources for Getting Youth Engaged on the Trail During Summer Break

    Resources for Getting Youth Engaged on the Trail During Summer Break

    Summer break is here! Here are a few resources for engaging your young explorers with trails this summer during NC’s Year of the Trail!

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  • Children of The Great Trails State

    Children of The Great Trails State

    Celebrate the rewards! The destination doesn’t have to be a 40-foot waterfall or a big mountain overlook. (Side note: Most kids really don’t care about the view from the overlook.)

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  • 14 North Carolina Hikes, Walks & Paddles to Help Beat the Summer Heat

    14 North Carolina Hikes, Walks & Paddles to Help Beat the Summer Heat

    As the summer sun starts to scorch and the humidity climbs seemingly higher each day, it’s time to plan your escape into the shaded forests, cool waters, and higher altitudes of North Carolina’s less trafficked trails.

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  • Celebrating Freedom in North Carolina’s Great Outdoors

    Celebrating Freedom in North Carolina’s Great Outdoors

    North Carolina, with its diverse landscapes and rich history, has always been a beacon for outdoor enthusiasts and historians. As we celebrate Year of the Trail, there are many intersections of trails and history, one significant parallel is between the state’s trail system and one of the most significant historical periods in American history—Juneteenth. Juneteenth is…

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  • Charting New Trails: Reimagining Accessibility in Outdoor Adventures

    Charting New Trails: Reimagining Accessibility in Outdoor Adventures

    Wes Hall is a pioneer in adaptive sports in the Great Trails State and beyond. Born right here in North Carolina, he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 15, leading to the amputation of his right leg. Wes has been pushing the envelope of what is possible by turning limitations into opportunities.

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  • Our Summer Bucket List

    Our Summer Bucket List

    Summer is a calling, and it’s a great time to embark on an unforgettable trail adventure in North Carolina! Here are 11 activities we’ll be surely checking off of our list! As summer approaches, it’s time to dust off those hiking boots, grab your paddle, and get ready for an incredible outdoor experience in the…

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  • Embracing the Beauty of The Great Trails State at 75

    Embracing the Beauty of The Great Trails State at 75

    Having recently celebrated my 75th birthday, I found myself reflecting on the incredible journey of being a lifelong hiker, with many years of it being on the trails of North Carolina. The trails that weave through this beautiful state have become not only a source of physical and mental well-being but also a thread that…

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  • How to Explore North Carolina’s Trails without Leaving a Trace

    How to Explore North Carolina’s Trails without Leaving a Trace

    When it comes to enjoying the breathtaking beauty of North Carolina’s trails, it’s essential to follow the Outdoor NC Leave No Trace principles. These guidelines not only ensure the preservation of nature but also allow future generations to experience the same wonders. Let’s delve into each principle and explore how they tie into The Great…

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  • Trails for the Future: How History is Shaping Trail Development in Randolph County

    Trails for the Future: How History is Shaping Trail Development in Randolph County

    Randolph County sits in the heart of North Carolina. Located approximately an hour from the millions of people living in Charlotte, the Triad, and the Triangle, it offers an escape from urban hustle and bustle through an abundance of natural resources. Once the home of some of the state’s first textile mills, scattered subsistence farms,…

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  • Volunteers – The Backbone of The Great Trails State

    Volunteers – The Backbone of The Great Trails State

    As Earth Day approaches, many people are looking for ways to give back to the trails and local communities, and volunteering with an organization to do trailwork is one of the best things that anyone can do.

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  • 16 Great Organizations to Volunteer with in The Great Trails State

    16 Great Organizations to Volunteer with in The Great Trails State

    While there are far more than 16, this short list is a good place to start if you’re interested in getting involved and volunteering on the trail!

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  • Building Trails & The Best Job in the World with Lisa Jennings

    Building Trails & The Best Job in the World with Lisa Jennings

    Lisa Jennings is the Recreation and Trails Manager for the Grandfather Ranger District in Pisgah National Forest. Working for the United States Forest Service (USFS) wasn’t always what she envisioned doing, either. Read on to hear Lisa’s story that she shared with us…

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  • Bridging the Gap with Vivianette Oritz

    Bridging the Gap with Vivianette Oritz

    Vivianette Oritz is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Latinos Aventureros. Their mission is to help everyone experience the outdoors by supporting and educating community members, with a primary focus on the BIPOC community. All communications are in Spanish and English in order to help bridge the gap.

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  • Q&A With Trailblazer Jennifer Pharr Davis

    Q&A With Trailblazer Jennifer Pharr Davis

    Jennifer Pharr Davis is an internationally recognized adventurer, speaker, author, and entrepreneur who has hiked more than 14,000 miles of trails on six different continents. Jennifer serves on the Year of the Trail Honorary Committee, and when it comes to getting outside and on a trail, she’s as pro as it gets, so naturally, we had to…

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  • Make a Date With a Trail

    Make a Date With a Trail

    Can a dirt path through the woods really be a romantic place? You could ask my friends Marcus and Krista. Several years ago they each signed up for a four-day backpacking trip on the Uwharrie Trail, organized by the Three Rivers Land Trust… They joined close to a hundred other hikers participating in the event. After…

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  • Art and North Carolina’s Year of the Trail

    Art and North Carolina’s Year of the Trail

    Five artists chosen for the Year of the Trail Artist Program were challenged to create artwork themed around the story of “why trails are important to North Carolinians and our visitors.” The artwork created brings out the unique style of each artist, boldly focusing on what Year of the Trail means to them. Read more…

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  • Creating Trails and Greenways for All

    Creating Trails and Greenways for All

    As an avid runner and biker and a former New York City Parks Commissioner overseeing over 30,000 acres of parkland, I have seen and experienced the benefits of trails and greenways firsthand. As a Black man, the reality of enjoying trails and greenways is different. I am not always comfortable being isolated in the woods,…

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  • It’s Year of the Trail in North Carolina – So what?

    It’s Year of the Trail in North Carolina – So what?

    In North Carolina we are the product of our environment. The people who can greet a sea breeze in the morning and tuck into a mountain chill at night. Who sprout from land that rolls across the hills of the piedmont. Who shape cities that hustle and bustle beside glistening rivers. Across this vibrant stretch…

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  • Winter Hiking – We’re In it for the Views

    Winter Hiking – We’re In it for the Views

    No matter if you make it to the western part of the state for a mountainous excursion or across town to a nearby trail or greenway, it’s worth it to make it outside in the winter and appreciate the beauty that the seasons bring North Carolina.

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  • Kicking Year of the Trail off with First Day Outdoors!

    Kicking Year of the Trail off with First Day Outdoors!

    2023 is Year of the Trail in the Great Trails State, and it’s almost 2023. Have you started planning what you will do on your “first day outdoors”? January 1st is the start of a new year and Year of the Trail here in North Carolina. While it’s easy to quickly assume that it’s going…

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  • The Great Trails State

    The Great Trails State

    2023 is Year of the Trail in the Great Trails State, but how did we settle on North Carolina as “The Great Trails State” anyways? As with most anything, there is a bit of historical significance behind it all. Let’s take a quick look at a few things that explain how we got here. From…

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  • 2023 is NC Year of the Trail!

    2023 is NC Year of the Trail!

    What Exactly is Year of the Trail, Anyway? 2023 is the Year of the Trail here in North Carolina, the Great Trails State. If you’re reading this, then you likely think that trails are great and, it’s indeed a catchy slogan but, there’s a lot more to it than just that. People have long noticed…

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