On a cold drizzly afternoon, just after the New Year, we decided to check out some local hiking trails close to our home at the North Carolina Coast. Since Covid dampened our Paris trip for Christmas and celebration of the New Year, we opted to participate in the First Day Hike event, however, January 1st, was a rainout, go figure. It appeared 2020 just didn’t want to let go, but January 2nd proved to be the day that we, and others were able to get out, and take part- social distanced, of course. Due to the benefits that hiking has on reducing stress, we felt that it would be a great way to start the year off right.
I’ve (Gerry) long held the idea that we can miss so much right under our nose while pursuing larger often more expensive adventures. Sometimes the stress that comes with lengthy car trips on busy highways or air travel involving crowded airports can run counter to the enjoyable experience you may be seeking, especially around the holidays. We chose to drive to a nearby spot on our coast that we’ve frequented many times but have never walked the hiking trails. The spot is at the north end of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. It’s also a state park where the civil war fort (Fort Macon) is preserved for the public to visit.
The day was blustery, but beautiful in that wintery kind of way. We started with a stroll on the beach, through the sand dunes, to the jetty. Then, we were off to the 3-mile hiking trail that runs through the sand dunes and the thick live oak trees that dominate the Crystal Coast. I’ve always been fascinated with the dense, wooded areas of our coast made up of these trees. The trails made for a great hiking experience; they are covered with cedar, making it extremely comfortable on your feet. A light mist energized us as we wound through the park to many beautiful places with great views, up high on dunes, overlooking the ocean, and various parts of the park.
We finished at Fort Macon where the trail ends. After completing a small hike, it is nice to have a destination where you can gather yourself, stretch out, and unwind. This historic fort offers such an opportunity. I’ve been to this fort many times throughout my life, starting with family visits during my elementary school years. I’ve always been drawn to history, especially American history. The fort was completed in the 1830’s to guard Beaufort Inlet and harbor, North Carolina’s only deep-water ocean port. It was instrumental in our civil war beginning in the 1860’s. So, for civil war buffs, the fort is a perfect capper after your 3-mile hike at this beautiful and historic state park.
2020 came with many twists and turns, as we all learned to navigate through our new normal. We found ourselves searching and creating new ways to have fun and adventure. Our daytime outing to the Fort Macon Trails is just the beginning of many more like it to come.