52 Hike Challenge

One of the big reasons we moved to North Carolina was because we wanted to live somewhere with more options for us to be active outdoors. And honestly, sometimes I’m overwhelmed (in a good way) by the options around us when it comes to hiking in particular.

So in 2019, to make an effort to explore more, I’m aiming to do one hike per week all year and complete the 52 Hike Challenge!

I’ll be sharing a little snapshot of each hike here on this page and in my Instagram story highlights, for accountability. So follow along, and maybe even join me in the challenge or on a hike if you’re in the area!

Hike #1: Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail

Date: 5 January 2019
Location: Hillsborough, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 4 miles

The Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail is a 44-acre site just outside of Durham. The recreational area is on the National Register of Historic Places because it is the only surviving dirt speedway from NASCAR’s inaugural 1949 season. The area has four miles of trails, which take you around the track and along the banks of the Eno River. There are a few rusty cars on the track and you can still see the old concessions area, grandstand, and flag stand.

We did this hike on a beautiful, breezy January with our friends Drew and Erin who are visiting the area. It was an easy trail and we really enjoyed learning the history and significance behind the speedway!

Hike #2: Blue Loop at the North Carolina Museum of Art

Date: 12 January 2019
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina | Catawba & Tuscarora territory
Distance: 1 mile

I’ve been dying to get to this museum since before we moved! Admission is FREE, and it is in the city of Raleigh, about 30 minutes from us. Our friends, Erin and Drew, joined us on this day as well since they were still in town visiting. We walked around the permanent collection inside before heading outside to do the loop trail around the museum grounds to look at the outdoor art installations.

I’m not gonna lie, I debated for a good long while on whether to include this “hike” or other “urban hikes” I have planned in my upcoming travels. I’ve always felt like hiking is only “real” if it’s unpaved, in nature, and outside of the city. But then I realized this fits into an elitist and very privileged idea of hiking and the outdoors. Not everyone can travel to places like that to go hiking. It’s not accessible to everyone. The point of this challenge is to get outside and get active. And if that means you’re walking around a neighborhood or city park, then do it. The outdoors is for everyone, and we shouldn’t limit our experience or anyone else’s by gatekeeping what counts and what doesn’t. So I’m going to count these urban hikes. They offer their own merits and experiences which I appreciate and enjoy.

Hike #3: Central Park

Date: 19 January 2019
Location: New York, New York | Lenape territory
Distance: 2.5 miles

Our third hike of the year was another urban hike. We had a lot of fun exploring Central Park. We entered around Strawberry Fields and explored Bethesda Terrace and the Ramble. It was a very cold day, even the ponds were completely frozen!

Hike #4: Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

Date: 26 January 2019
Location: Cary, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 3 miles

For our fourth hike of the year, we returned to the wilderness and hiked at a local nature preserve. Hemlock Bluffs is unique for our area here in central North Carolina because it’s the only place that exhibits land formations (the eponymous bluffs) and has species of trees (the eponymous hemlocks) that are usually found out in western North Carolina in the mountainous areas. Our friends Oscar and Emily and their dog, Ollie, joined us for this hike!

Hike #5: Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail

Date: 2 February 2019
Location: Hillsborough, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 2.5 miles

After a frigid week working in Washington DC during the polar vortex, it was so nice to be home in North Carolina for some more temperate winter weather and some nice weekend hiking! We decided to return to the Occoneechee Speedway, this time with Gracie. It was a nice sunny yet brisk day for a family walk around the track!

Hike #6: Lake Crabtree Trails

Date: 3 February 2019
Location: Cary, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 3 miles

Oscar, Emily, and Ollie joined us for a nice walk around Lake Crabtree on this overcast, but nice Sunday morning. There were lots of birds swimming in the lake and Gracie went full out bird dog wanting to chase them all!

Hike #7: Duke Forest

Date: 10 February 2019
Location: Durham, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 1.5 miles

We explored a new trail in the forest behind our house this weekend and had a nice brisk walk from gate 3 to gate 6. The weather was so nice and sunny this whole week, but it cooled down quite a bit this weekend so our hike was pretty chilly!

Hike #8: National Mall

Date: 15 February 2019
Location: Washington DC | Piscataway territory
Distance: 3.5 miles

I spent another week in DC for work, and to celebrate a successful and busy week, my work bestie and I took off a little early on Friday to take a nice walk around the National Mall. We stumbled across a very interesting scene at the Lincoln Memorial, where they were filming for the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale!

Hike #9: Al Buehler Trail at Duke University

Date: 18 February 2019
Location: Durham, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 3 miles

I had this Monday off from work for President’s Day, so Gracie and I decided to go for a nice hike! I’d driven past this trailhead near our house a few times while passing through campus, so I decided to check it out. The trail is used by many for cross country practice, since it is a 5km loop with good elevation. It was a particularly muddy day, so Gracie and I both got very dirty, but we had so much fun!

I didn’t originally plan on doing the full loop since I’m not really a solo hiker, but Gracie and I hit our stride and I ended up really enjoying it. The time alone in nature, reflecting and thinking, was therapeutic and it left me feeling very peaceful. I was definitely sore the next day since the trail was unexpectedly hilly and Gracie insisted on a brisk pace, but I felt so accomplished and healthy after. It was altogether a great experience and one of my favorite hikes so far.

Hike #10: North Carolina Botanical Garden

Date: 21 February 2019
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 1.5 miles

My best friend, Marilyn, visited me all the way from Austin for the last weekend in February. She flew in on Thursday, which was our only non-rainy day of the weekend. We had a nice walk on the trails surrounding the botanical garden in Chapel Hill!

Hike #11: Shepherd Nature Trail in Duke Forest

Date: 26 February 2019
Location: Durham, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 1 mile

I took a little Tuesday morning solo hike on the trail behind our house to clear my head. It was a beautiful morning, finally sunny after too many days of rain. The creeks were flowing and the greenery was beginning to return to the forest in the first sprigs of spring.

Hike #12: North Carolina Botanical Garden

Date: 2 March 2019
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 1.5 miles

Matt and I took Gracie for a nice walk around the trails at the botanical garden. It was a chilly, yet sunny afternoon and we enjoyed the peace and quiet of the forest.

Hike #13: Hillsborough River Walk

Date: 10 March 2019
Location: Hillsborough, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 2.25 miles

Matt and I discovered the river walk trails and had a nice long walk along the Eno. There were lots of families on the trails, and Gracie even got to meet another German Shorthaired Pointer! Afterwards we stopped in to the local co-op (which sits right on the trail) for some snacks and walked around the historic area of town, which dates back to the Revolutionary War.

Hike #14: Shepherd Nature Trail in Duke Forest

Date: 13 March 2019
Location: Durham, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 1 mile

I’d had a really emotionally taxing day at work the previous day, so when I woke up the morning of the 13th I felt like I really needed to clear my head. So I decided to do that with a quick hike on the trails behind my house. I took a few minutes to sit by the stream, reflect, and tried my best to shake the negativity from the previous day’s work to prepare for a better one.

Hike #15: Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Date: 14 March 2019
Location: Durham, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 1 mile

Matt and I took Gracie for an after-work walk around the Duke Gardens since it was a beautiful day and the cherry blossom trees were blooming! The gardens were beginning to show the most wonderful firsts of spring, and color was bursting from every corner.

Hike #16: Hillsborough River Walk

Date: 17 March 2019
Location: Hillsborough, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 4.25 miles

We returned to the river walk trails for a St. Patrick’s Day walk and some quality time before I left for a long work trip. We did the other half of the trails, which we found out actually links up with the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail! It was a long walk, but like the last time we walked these trails, we stopped in to the local co-op and got some snacks before we went home.

Hike #17: Vondelpark

Date: 20 March 2019
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Distance: 2 miles

My hotel in Amsterdam was right outside Vondelpark, so I took the opportunity for a lovely urban hike in one of the most famous urban parks in the world. Since it was basically still winter, not much of the greenery had returned, but it was still beautiful.

Hike #18: Ooyse Schependom

Date: 24 March 2019
Location: Nijmegen, Netherlands
Distance: 1 mile

After being on the ship traveling down the river for a few days, I needed to get away and stretch my legs. I was lucky to find this nature park just down the river from where the ship was moored. I had a wonderful little hike around the trails, and even got to see some horses and goats!

Hike #19: Schloss Benrath

Date: 27 March 2019
Location: Dusseldorf, Germany
Distance: 1 mile

My friend, Merci, and I went to this beautiful palace during our free day in Dusseldorf. She’s from the Phillippines, and it was her first time in Germany, so I told her we needed to go a castle or a palace while she was in the country since it’s the quintessential German thing to do. The gardens at this palace were beautiful and there were beautiful flowers everywhere! I was getting some serious Grand Budapest Hotel vibes from the architecture, too!

Hike #20: Quinta de Regaleira

Date: 3 April 2019
Location: Sintra, Portugal
Distance: 1 mile

I wasn’t originally expecting to count this place as a hike, but the paths around the grounds of this estate were pretty strenuous and hilly. The gardens were lush and beautiful and paired with the architecture, it was one of the most wonderful places I had ever laid eyes on. One of my best friends college, Ryan, and his mom flew out to meet me for some adventuring around Portugal. We had so much fun exploring together!

Hike #21: Castelo dos Mouros

Date: 3 April 2019
Location: Sintra, Portugal
Distance: 1.5 miles

After a big lunch to recover from hiking around Quinta de Regaleira, we headed to this medieval Moorish castle. The walls of the castle looked much similar to the Great Wall of China, and provided an amazing panoramic view of the surrounding area all the way out to the Pacific Ocean. Climbing to the tops of the towers was strenuous, and we almost got blown off the mountain, but it was worth it! Between hikes 20 and 21, I climbed over 80 floors of elevation in one day! My calves were sore for the next few days.

Hike #22: Shepherd Nature Trail in Duke Forest

Date: 8 April 2019
Location: Durham, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 1 mile

After a weekend of trying to sleep off my exhaustion from the ship tour and the jet lag, I got to stretch my legs for a backyard hike with Matt, his parents who were in town visiting, and Gracie. The trees were showing more signs of spring, and their leaves were sprouting all over. It was lovely.

Hike #23: Shepherd Nature Trail in Duke Forest

Date: 1 May 2019
Location: Durham, North Carolina | Catawba territory
Distance: 1 mile

I had to take the rest of April off from hiking because of another work trip, Gracie’s surgery, and an illness. But I wanted to start May off right with another hike, so I took an hour to myself for a backyard hike.

I will update this page as I hike. You can also stay tuned on my Facebook and Instagram!