By Vanessa Infanzon - ‘Tis the season’ to hike the North Carolina trails. Crisp clean air, autumn foliage and cooler temperatures that make nature all the more enjoyable for walks through fields, forests and marshes.

Cardinal & Pine wants you to be prepared before you venture out into the wilderness. Here’s what to know before you go:
  1. Pack supplies. Although most everyone can hike, a few items will make the experience more enjoyable, says Bill Bartee, owner of Jesse Brown’s Outdoors, an independent outfitter based in Charlotte. “What you need are a day pack, comfortable and supportive footwear, appropriate clothing, water and snacks,” he says.
  2. Know your limits. Choose a trail based on your group’s level of experience and abilities. Check out the difficulty and length of the trail. Is the trail out and back or is it a loop? “Match your physical skill to the hike you’re taking on,” Bartee explains. “The biggest mistake I’ve seen is as the days become shorter, people misjudge their time for a hike. They misgauge the amount of daylight they have to hike.”
  1. Share your plan. Some of the places you go will be remote and may not have GPS or cell service available. Bring a paper map or download the map onto your phone (make sure you’ve got a rechargeable battery with you) and let a friend or family member know where you’re headed.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings. Stay on the paths designated for trails and heed warnings about loose and slippery rocks and fall risks. “If something looks or feels out of place return to a safety point,” says Lawanda Wells, a Greensboro-resident and the NC ambassador for Outdoorsy Black Women, a social network for Black women interested in outdoor activities. “Keep headphone volumes at a low setting so you can hear nearby wildlife or other hikers.”
  3. Leave no trace. Pack out whatever you bring in and don’t disturb wildlife or plantlife. “Plan your hike by researching the busy times and only go during a low-use time,” Wells says. “Prepare ahead of time by researching the trail and weather conditions. It’s also important to know the rules and regulations for that area and follow them accordingly.”

We’ve searched North Carolina’s coastal, mountain and piedmont regions for trails – many are off the beaten path.

Faith Rock Trail
Walk across the Deep River on a footbridge to a 0.8 mile loop or access other trails for a longer hike. Look for Faith Rock: Its history dates back to the American Revolution and one Loyalist’s quest for revenge. The trail connects to Deep River State Trail with more than 3 miles to explore in Randolph County. 1306 Andrew Hunter Road, Franklinville