Gay hiking

Safety tips for winter hiking

RANDOLPH COUNTY, NC – Although it isn’t spring yet, many people are hitting the trails to get out and exercise by hiking.

What do you want to know

Hikers should consult a trail map before their trip and know how difficult the trail is

Winter hikers should wear body-fitting, but not bulky, clothing

Deep River Trail is part of the Piedmont Legacy Trails, which span 12 counties in Piedmont

Randolph County Trails Coordinator Mary Joan Pugh started the hike with her parents who grew up in Asheville. After a career in government and planning, she enjoys hiking any time of the year.

“I just like going out, no matter where, wherever nature is, because it’s not only good for your physical health, but also for your mental health,” Pugh says.

Ali Steele is the co-founder of Issa Vibe Adventures, a Charlotte-based organization designed to connect the black community to hiking and other health and wellness activities in North Carolina. Steele started hiking after adopting a more holistic lifestyle.

“It gives you a sense of peace. … It puts you at peace with who you are as one, Steele said.

Steele and Pugh enjoy hiking in the winter, especially on Faith Rock Trail in Franklinville, where the trails are generally less crowded. Before hitting the trail, they take a few precautions to ensure they are walking safely.

For novice hikers, opt for a good pair of shoes if you don’t have hiking boots. Clothing should fit the body in winter, according to Pugh. Every hiker should consult the trail map ahead of time to determine the length of the hike and the difficulty of the trail, according to Pugh. Hikers should bring water, a snack, a first aid kit, a trail map and a cell phone, in case of an emergency.

“You put on water, even if you don’t sweat, you lose a lot of water in the winter,” Pugh said.

Steele and Pugh agree that hiking has both physical and mental health benefits. Being in nature gives them a chance to disconnect and relax. Steele believes expanding access and awareness of hiking trails is important to the black community.

“With Issa Vibe Adventures, it’s really important to expose our community to all of these rides so they can get the same mental health and physical health contributions to their lives,” Steele said.

During the pandemic, many trails across North Carolina have seen an increase in visitation.

In 2021, Grandfather Mountain, Hanging Rock and Mayo River saw usage increase by more than 50%, according to the North Carolina Trails Program annual report.

Faith Rock Trail is part of the Deep River Trail, part of the Piedmont Legacy Trails, a system that spans 12 counties in Piedmont. It is both a land trail and a paddle trail.

For more information on the Piedmont Heritage Trails, click here.