I am new to backpacking and looking for some localish areas to do short out and backs with my young daughter. I’ve looked at Lake Jordan, Umstead, and Raven Rock but they are either drive up camp sites or maybe a 1 mile hike in. I’m looking for something a with a bit more of a hike, maybe 5 miles? All recommendations welcome.
Hi @Jdwill. I would consider Uwharrie National Forest as an option even though it sits about 1.5 hours away from RDU. This area offers a nice trail with very moderate elevation changes. Five miles is perfect for this trail since there are a few designated camp areas to choose from. The main roads for the trail sections are NC 24 and NC 109. The ranger's office is in Troy, NC. They can provide the latest trail information and suggestions on which trail segments may work best for you. It is a great recreation area to start backpacking.
Have you tried backpacking on parts of the AT? They usually have those huts/shelters on the trail. Like I did one in McAfee knob, so u park at the trail head and it's like a 4.4 mile hike to the knob and from their climb down and I think a mile in or a little more there is the John springs shelter,u could camp there and head back the next morning.
South Mountains state park has several great backpacking sites. That park is the one closest to Raleigh that seems "remote" in my opinion, though it's about 3.5 hours away. There's hike in camping at the Eno River state park too. It's close, and I really like the park, but the campsite is only about a mile in unless you take an indirect route. Last option I'll mention is Merchant's Millpond state park. It's about 2.5 hours NE. Hike in sites are halfway through a 5 mile loop. It's pretty flat, though it's swampy so I tend to only go there from October - March to avoid heat/humidity/bugs. It's the Northern-most natural habitat for alligators, though I haven't seen one there. (Canoers see them, and you can canoe-in camp. I'm a hiker though so I've missed out on that.)
My kids had done all of these by the end of primary school, and I think my daughter (the youngest) had done them all by Kindergarten.
Subscribing to this one. Great recommendations. My first hike-in campout with my son was the Piper Creek campsites at the Eno River State Park. It was a good distance for him, being new to carrying a full (for a ten year old) pack. We've also really enjoyed the Fanny's Ford campsites at the Eno.