By Mary McLean, Staff Writer
Published in print Oct.8, 2014
October is finally here, and with it comes the pleasant lack of humidity, the comfort of a cozy sweater, and the knowledge that at least one person within 20 feet of you is drinking a pumpkin spice latte.
Get a jump-start on enjoying the turning leaves and cool breezes with Greensboro’s plethora of free parks, trails, lakes, and general outdoor fun places.
Our little city is actually in one of the prime spots to enjoy the natural world, with mountains to the west if you’re looking for a brisk hike with a nice view and lakes to the east if you’re looking for a lazy paddle and some cool wildlife.
So pick a spot and get outside, before we all cocoon ourselves in blankets in fear of the oncoming winter.
If you’ve ever been down Lee Street, headed past downtown and towards I40 East, you’ve passed the Gateway Gardens. While the nature center is still under construction, the gardens themselves are open to the public.
Whimsical sculptures abound, with seats shaped like fruit, stained glass archways, and a life size storybook stage area that provides a fun for either your kid at heart or the kid you’re babysitting.
There is also a huge open, flat, grassy area that would be perfect for a pickup soccer game or some intense ultimate Frisbee.
Definitely worth a visit, the Gateway Gardens are so new that you can take credit for introducing them to all your friends (without revealing the Carolinian as your true source, of course).
If flowers and sculptures sound a little low energy to you, and you’re looking to cool off after this seeming endless summer, look no further than our very own Piney Lake.
Actually a property that is owned by UNCG and can be reserved and utilized by different on campus organizations, the lake is only 8 miles away from downtown. Basically, this is the cheapest, closest, most effortless way to have fun outside ever. Do it.
For the more adventurous folks out there, who want to clamber over rocks, climb trees, and spot wildlife, Pilot Mountain is the place to go. A 45 minute drive from campus, the state park offers a setting reminiscent of Boone or Asheville, but in a third of the travel time.
On a clear day, you can see Winston and even Greensboro from the top of the mountain. Not only can you go hiking, but it is also one of the best places in the state for outdoor rock climbing.
The park service offers free events on a month by month basis, including ranger-guided hikes and hawk watches. So visit Pilot and get high, the legal way!
The Bog Garden
For an entirely different wildlife experience, swing by the Bog Garden after your next trip to Friendly Center. Right next to the commercial shopping center is a secluded, quiet and unique area.
You can try out the elevated walkway, and keep an eye out for snapping turtles or a great blue heron. Or bring a book to leaf through, as there aren’t really any reading nooks on campus that can match sitting down next to a circulating waterfall under a cool, shady canopy of leaves.
Bogs may sound gross, but they are actually pretty damn awesome if you just give them a try.
So there you have it, four little reminders that autumn isn’t all about pumpkin flavored foods and slutty Halloween costumes.
Take a minute to get some fresh air, appreciate the changing leaves, and be thankful that it is no longer 95 with 80% humidity.