10 a.m. Arrive at the Little River Regional Park and Natural Area, 301 Little River Park Way Rougemont, North Carolina. Stop in at the visitor’s center for a map, and take a few minutes to enjoy the open meadow before heading into the forest.
10:15 a.m. Start on the .25 mile Interpretive Loop Trail entrance found near the picnic shelters. Paved and handicap accessible, this short trail will give the hiker a taste of Little River before setting off on a longer adventure.
10:30 a.m. Back at the trailhead, take the S. River Loop Trail, a path that takes you two miles to the eastern edge of the park, paralleling Buffalo Creek before curving a little less than two miles back to the visitor’s center and parking area.
Hikers should follow the green trail markers. Signs with even numbers indicate the S. River Loop Trail. Keep an eye out for a variety of wildlife, included deer, beavers, fox, blue-tailed skinks, and even wild turkeys. Birds are especially prevalent in this area, which is featured on the NC Birding Trail. Birders should watch out for Carolina wrens, white-breasted nuthatches, and Carolina chickadees all year round; indigo buntings, American redstarts, and yellow-throated warblers in the summer and during migration; as well as red-shouldered and cooper’s hawks. If birds especially interest you, pick up an extra trail guide at the park office and hit the .6 mile birding trail on the way out!
12:30 p.m. Back at the parking area, drive 20 minutes to Piedmont, 401-B2 Foster Street, Durham, NC. The restaurant is “devoted to its namesake,” reads its homepage, and the Piedmont Region of North Carolina and its products “serves as the inspiration for our restaurant.” Though the entrée items at this farm-to-table favorite may be pricey, the appetizer menu is both creative and the perfect snack after a morning in the woods. Try the smoked Carolina trout dip, with horseradish and Loaf Bakery crostini ($8), or Coon Rock Farm’s heirloom pumpkin soup, served with NC blue crab, crème fraiche, and white truffle oil ($11).
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