We want to welcome you to our little slice of heaven! In Catawba County, we have over 50+ parks, with the four major ones being Bakers Mountian Park, Riverbend Park, St. Stephens Park & Dog Park, and Mountain Creek Park. Our parks feature many outdoor adventures such as hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, bird watching, and much more. Each park has multiple amenities to meet your adventurous spirit. One thing that is a big deal to us is safety, making sure you are well-equipped while visiting our parks and trails! Following these trail tips & principles and using the correct gear are going to ensure that you are going to have a wonderful experience on your outdoor adventure.
Before hitting the trails, make sure to check these safety tips off your list:
- Pick the right trail for you. Research your desired trails ahead of time! Pick one with terrain and length that fits your capabilities.
- Be Prepared. Before going on the trail, be sure you are equipped with the right gear, including navigation, clothing, and extra food and water.
- Stay Safe. Bring your ID with emergency contact information, a small about of money, and a cell phone. Make sure to let someone know where you are going and when you plan on being back.
- Check the Weather. Pick appropriate clothing, stay hydrated, and learn the signs of hyper- and hypothermia.
- Listen to your body. If you aren't feeling great while on the trail, it's time to turn around and head home. You can rest up and try again next time.
Outdoor Trail Tips Provided By: National Environmental Education Foundation
Grabbing the Perfect Gear starts at one of our local gear stores! Here in Catawba County we have fantastic shops that are happy to help get you in the right gear for your next adventure.
- Outdoor Supply Company has everything from kayaks and paddles to backpacks, clothing, and climbing gear. Their team (puppies included) are well versed in all their products and how gear will best meet your needs. Also, if you are shopping for kayaks, Outdoor Supply Co. offers a try before you buy option. They will go with you to Lake Hickory and let you try out your preferred kayak to make sure it best fits your needs!
- Castors Fly Shop, located inside Outdoor Supply Company, is a specialty store bringing you the best fly fishing gear with custom, hand-made flies. They feature the best fly fishing poles, tackle boxes, nets and accessories. Ask them about the best fly fishing spots in the area, and they will provide great tips and ticks while fishing!
- Rock N Road Bicycles, the oldest bike shop in Catawba County, which opened its doors in 1994, features bikes of all kinds, accessories and even an on-site repair shop. A highlight of the shop is the greeting committee, aka Guinness, the shop dog adopted by one of the employees on Saint Patrick's day a few years ago. Guinness is delighted to help locate the perfect bike for you!
- Carolina Pedal Works is a premiere full-service bike shop, offering sales, service, and accessories—along with a coffee bar and five taps of North Carolina craft beer. Stop by to see them at the Historic Hollar Mill, just right off the City Walk, for all your cycling needs, a mid ride latte or a post-ride beer!
- Lightning Cycles Bike Shop is a one-stop shop for all your bike essentials including bikes of all kinds, clothing and helmets, and accessories. They have an on-site repair shop that can get you squared away for your next trail ride. One of the really cool things about Lightning Cycles is that they offer bike rentals. To rent, all you have to do is make a reservation, rent a bike that best fits you, and then get out on a trail. The bikes do have curfew, so please make sure to have them back 1 hour prior to store close!
Stop by any of these stores to find the best gear for all your outdoor adventures and stay safe on the trails.
MAKE IT YOUR NATURE TO PROTECT OUR TRAILS:
Lastly, make it your nature to remember the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace out on the trails!
- Plan Ahead and Prepare. Before you travel, learn about your destination, its regulations and safety matters.
- Stick to Trails and Overnight Right. Keep to designated trails and durable surfaces to protect trailside plants. Camp at existing or designated sites. Be cautious. Stay within your party’s skill level. Know what to do in case of poor weather, rip currents, slick rocks around waterfalls and other potential hazards.
- Trash Your Trash. Pack it in, pack it out. Place all trash in garbage bags and carry it home. Food scraps, cigarette butts and other litter can take years to decompose and are unhealthy for wildlife. If adventuring with pets, plan to pack out their waste as well.
- Leave It As You Find It. North Carolina is home to amazing diversity of indigenous plants and animals. Snap a picture instead of picking flowers, gathering shells and collecting pinecones. Leave rocks as you find them to protect critters’ sensitive habitats, prevent erosion and avert other ecological impacts. Forgo carving into trees, which inflicts lasting damage and can kill the vegetation.
- Be Careful With Fire. If you choose to have a fire, check on regulations, secure a permit if needed and keep the fire small. If allowed, gather wood from the ground instead of breaking branches from trees. Buy firewood locally to avoid bringing in invasive species. Burn all wood to ash. Before leaving, check that the fire is completely out and ashes are cold.
- Keep Wildlife Wild. Observe creatures from a distance. Getting too close causes undue stress and harm. Refrain from feeding wild animals. It alters their natural behavior and puts them and you at risk.
- Be Considerate of Others and Share the Outdoors. People have a range of skill levels and different ideas about how to enjoy the outdoors. Respect others so that North Carolina’s natural spaces will be welcoming and relaxing for all.
We hope that you can use these trail tips, the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace, and our gear stores to be well-equipped and prepared while venturing out on our hiking, biking, and blueway trails! One more bonus tip, chat with a Park Ranger, they would be delighted to provide guidance to your next trail trip! Be safe out there in the beautiful outdoors! As always, tag us @visithickorymetro to be featured on our social media!