Labor Day Weekend is a popular time to enjoy the outdoors, and North Carolina offers plenty of great places to go.
1. Lake Norman State Park
Lake Norman State Park is 32 miles north of Charlotte and has activities ranging from swimming and boating to hiking and camping. It is a great place to plan a day trip or to spend the long weekend. Pedal boats are available to rent daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but are subject to availability. Fishing is available to those with proper licenses.
The park has a 125 mile long sand beach located near the fishing and picnic areas. Mountain biking and hiking trails are available. Two trails are hiking exclusive: the Alder Trail, a 0.8 mile loop, and the Lakeshore Trail, a moderate but lengthy 5 mile trail. The Itsul Trail is open to both hikers and bikers. Hikers must yield to bikers on this trail.
Riders can enjoy 30.5 miles worth of trails through mature hardwood forests. Camping is available at 33 sites, with one family, or six people, at each site. Tent pads, picnic tables and grills are available at each site.
2. Mount Mitchell State Park
At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi River. Mount Mitchell State Park provides breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, hiking trails and campgrounds.
Camping is available year-round. However, the campground is designed for more experienced campers as there is no running water or showers available.
There are a variety of different hiking trails available in the park, ranging from easy strolls to more intense climbs.
3. Wilson’s Creek Wilderness Area
Wilson’s Creek is located in Caldwell County and features 15.8 miles of open water for swimming, fishing and playing in the waterfalls. Some areas are shallow, while there are some that offer deeper swimming holes.
People who are tentative to outdoorsy activities will enjoy spending the day picnicking along the rocks that surround the river.
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy camping alongside the creek for the weekend.
4. Crowders Mountain State Park
Crowders Mountain State Park is located off of southbound I-85 and offers visitors a variety of outdoor activities.
The park features 11 hiking trails fit for all skill levels. Some trails provide steep hills alongside a creek while others are easy walks around the lake. The Ridgeline Trail runs across the South Carolina state line and then goes into Kings Mountain State Park.
Crowders Mountain also has secluded areas available for pack-in camping.
There are canoes available for rent and use on the lake. Fishing is available from the shoreline or from canoes.
The park also has designated rock climbing and bouldering areas that experienced climbers may enjoy. A permit is required but can be obtained at the park office free of charge.
5 and 6. Hooker Falls and Triple Falls
Hooker Falls and Triple Falls are part of the DuPont State Forest located near Brevard, N.C. Trails to both falls can be accessed from the same parking lot.The trail leading to Hooker Falls is short and mostly flat. Sometimes kayakers will paddle down the falls. It is a scary sight, but one that is not soon forgotten.
There are various places to rent tubes and kayaks near the access to the falls.At the falls, there are benches and raised seating areas for hikers to sit and view the falls.
Triple Falls is a tougher hike, but the views are well worth it. The trail is full of steep hills and tough climbs, but it goes right along the river and has plenty of places to step off and enjoy the views.Once hikers reach the top, there are stairs to climb down so visitors can climb on the waterfalls. Triple Falls was also featured in the 2012 blockbuster hit “The Hunger Games” as part of the arena.
The falls are a great place to spend a day outside relaxing, exploring, sunbathing and getting some exercise.
7. Hanging Rock State Park
Hanging Rock is located north of Winston-Salem and has 73 campsites available for tent and trailer camping. This is a good place to go for people who are more tentative about camping, as drinking water, laundry sinks and hot showers are near the campground area.
There are 18 miles of wooded trails for hiking that feature views of cascades, waterfalls, cliffs and the Blue Ridge Mountains.