Friday, May 23, 2014
Hike through Greensboro Lake country
Greensboro has an extensive interconnected trail system around the north side of the city. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail passes through a nice variety of these multi-use off-road woods trails beside Lakes Townsend and Brandt. There is good old foot-traffic-only paths - this view is right on Lake Townsend with my first sighting of Mountain Laurel in bloom:
The eastern Columbine has begun to bloom too. Here's a look at it with some wild phlox in the background:
There's boardwalk, though not a lot of it - just two sections of a couple hundred yards, both in the same wetland area:
There are abundant lake access points, even a few with small sandy beaches:
There are expert mountain biking paths. This is the nationally high-ranked Owl's Roost trail with its undulating-twisting roller-coaster sections, surely a delight for bikers and fun for the hiker too:
There are interpretive nature trails and trails with plenty of rest stops to enjoy the water views:
And finally there's the Atlantic & Yadkin Rails-to-Trails Greenway - a paved multi-use path including a couple of bridges over the reservoir.
There's even trail through a forest of giant Bamboo -- not the most welcome scene to an ecological purist. Bamboo is a highly invasive import. But personally I love the look of a good robust bamboo forest, and these stems were up to 3 inches thick and upwards of 40 feet tall. It's hard to believe, but such stems grow that tall in a single year starting in spring as edible shoots coming up out of the ground.
Along one edge, the bamboo was being invaded by an even more aggressively invasive import: Kudzu. I wonder which one will win out in the end.
What I didn't see today were any horse trails, but Greensboro has those too - an extensive trail system in Northeast Park within a quarter mile of the MST in NE Guilford county.
I hiked essentially the entire MST section of Greensboro Watershed Trails today, and it was a wonderful respite--keeping me out of the sun on a bright day when road walking would have been hot but walking in the shade of the woods felt perfect.
I like these trails better than the sixty miles of Falls Lake Trails around Raleigh-Durham because they give the hiker much more consistent views of the lakes (Lakes Brandt and Townsend). The Falls Lake Trail seemed to cut inland bypassing peninsulas and jutting points of land where there would be good water views, opting to take the hiker past residential backyards all too often. The Greensboro Trails hug the shore line much more often and take pains to get the hiker right out on those points. The down side of that is that the trails meander in the extreme. In this view the kayaker-fisherman was only about 1/3 mile from the Brandt Lake Dam and Marina, but for me to get there via footpath, I had to walk about 5.5 miles of trail.
Tomorrow it's back to road walking, but I've already finished the majority of that. Soon I'll be into the mountains, and the elevation and shady trails will be welcome. Spring is quickly giving way to summer now, and the heat and humidity get brutal when you're out in the sun on a paved road.
Here's a map of today's hike, as recorded on my GPS:
MST Day 55 - Greensboro Watershed Trails at EveryTrail
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