Out West gets all the fun. Places like California and Utah and Colorado are constantly in the headlines of adventure and outdoor articles. The big name national parks are featured in movies and pictures and lists like “10 Trails You MUST Hike This Summer!” and “5 Lakes That Are Perfect For Camping.” The outdoor community has its epicenter in the great wilds out West, but what about people who don’t live in these places? What about the people on the East Coast? Or, more importantly (to me), the Southeast where I was born and raised? We shouldn’t be ignored or relegated to token trails in the area while others whisper of epic adventures on hidden trails. Outdoor experiences and adventures are not limited to spaces with the biggest names, the longest trails, the steepest grades, and the wildest vistas, which is why I’m creating a new series for the blog: the Sunday Stroll series. Outdoor experiences should be accessible to everyone because we all benefit from time in nature - from becoming more physically fit to being calmer, happier, kinder, and more creative.

Even if it’s just a town park where you can take a few minutes and escape in the greenwood it’s important to know where you can go and that anyone can go to these places. For the blog series I’ll highlight a few places that are in the Raleigh-Durham area. These are places you can take your kids, take your grandparents, take that cute guy from the coffeeshop for a date, take your coworkers, take your best friend, take anyone you want to be with and just connect in a little bit of the outdoors. We all deserve these experiences, because for some the big hill on the outskirts of town may as well be Everest, or for some it’s just a matter of discovering what’s there, and then getting a hunger for the next place and the next. Hike your own hike, and I’ll see you out there.

Some posts that fall under this category are getting retroactively added to the Sunday Stroll series. These are posts like Occoneechee Mountain or Eno River (here, here, and here) or Jordan Lake or Umstead - including several posts from 2013 before I was ever considered “outdoorsy” or had even gone backpacking beyond a summer camp in middle school (hey, that was a legit summer camp).

To kick off this series with its first “official” post, Dad, McCrae, Ryder and I went to Duke Forest to check out the Al Buehler trail. I knew about the 3 mile loop from running - it’s a very popular place for long trail runs on weekends. I had never actually been to Duke Forest despite years of hearing about it and having every intention to go running there eventually (I still intend to go running there eventually). The Al Buehler trail meandered along 15-501 and the Duke golf course and past undergrowth thick with poison ivy and along a rehabilitated creek bed. The terrain and scenery were interesting enough to make for a nice hike (and presumably a very enjoyable trail run), without being so taxing that it was more than a stroll. This is the second hike I’ve taken with my dad recently, and I hope we’ve got plenty more ahead.

I'll see you out there.

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