by Anna Cook
North Carolina has dubbed 2023 as the Year of the Trail and there is no better place to get outside than in Moore County. With a wide variety of options, you can find the perfect trail for you whether you are brand new to the outdoors or a seasoned hiker.
Moore County also has special programs this year like Pinecone Pathways, Sandhills Story Trail Adventures, and the Carthage Digital Mural Trail.
If you have always wanted to get outside more, then this is your year! From the paved walking trails of the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens to the rugged trails of Bear Creek, there is something in Moore County for you.
Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve
Weymouth Woods is one of the most popular places to hike in the area as the trails are relatively easy but it’s still very scenic. Trails are also easy to follow with great signage because the preserve is part of the NC State Parks System.There is a large parking lot here with a nice Visitors Center and clean restrooms – always a plus in my book. All of the trails are great but there are two very highly rated routes. One is taking Bower’s Bog Trail to Lighter Stump then doing the Pine Island and Holly Road Trails. This loop is great if you want some exercise as it’s 3.8 miles and a bit uphill on the way back. Another option is the Pine Barrens Trail, to Lighter Stump, then the Pine Islands Loop. This route is a bit shorter but gives you a varied look at the landscape. If you have small kids that you want to introduce to the outdoors then the Bower’s Bog Trail is a 0.3-mile loop trail and very easy.
Sandhills Horticultural Gardens
The Sandhills Horticultural Gardens is an amazing spot for anyone who enjoys plants, flowers, and birds. When everything is in bloom, you could easily spend a couple of hours here. Even in the winter, you can find a few things blooming though.
The trails here are a variety of asphalt, gravel, brick, boardwalk, and grass as you make your way through the gardens. Some of our favorite garden sections were the Conifer Garden and Margaret H. Ambrose Japanese Garden.
The Native Wetland Trail is also beautiful and an unexpected surprise here. These trails are beautiful places to walk and you can make your trip as long or as short as you would like.
There are also plenty of benches where you can sit and take in the scenery if you wanted to stay a while. It is free to visit but donations are accepted.
The Bear Creek Trails are the most remote on this list and there are 14 miles of trails in the area near Robbins. Many of the trails follow Bear Creek and Cabin Creek so you get the peaceful sounds of flowing water.
Two popular trails here are the Reservoir Loop which is about 2 miles and the Water Plant Loop which is only 0.5 miles. If you want more of a challenge then the Bear Creek Trail is 3.75 miles and rated difficult.
The only restrooms are port-a-johns so keep that in mind. There are picnic tables by the creek near the trailhead behind Elise Middle School so it makes for a nice place for a snack spot.
The Village Arboretum is best for anyone who wants a more urban hiking experience. The arboretum is in walking distance of The Village shops, Pinehurst Resort, and many restaurants. This is a 35-acre area with winding trails that are great for a morning or evening walk. A few points of interest are a beautiful pergola with many benches. The pergola overlooks an expansive grassy meadow where we saw lots of dogs playing. There are also three rustic wooden bridges, a large pavilion, and a smaller covered area with rocking chairs and a chess board.
The trails are easy with only some slight inclines and most of the surfaces are sand or small gravel. If you’re looking for somewhere near Pinehurst for a quick walk outside then this is a great spot!
Nick’s Creek is part of the Southern Pines Greenway System which is great for hikers, bikers, runners, or anyone with small kids. The Nick’s Creek section is 1 mile but it is an out-and-back trail. At the end of the trail, it connects to the Forest Creek Trail with is 3.5 miles long and will take you to a larger network of the Greenway Trails that includes Reservoir Park. The trail is relatively flat and lined with trees on both sides. At the beginning of the trail, you’ll have some nice views of Nick’s Creek.Small kids would easily be able to do this trail and you could even push a stroller if needed. This is also a popular spot for anyone to walk their dogs.
Note that if you use Google Maps to navigate, it is off by about 100ft on the entrance to the trailhead. It will direct you to turn on Nicks Creek Lane so be on the lookout for the trailhead sign.
Sandhills Pour Tour/Sandhills Wine Trail
Love wine or beer? This is the perfect trail for you! When participating in both of these trails, you get a passport and each location will provide you with a stamp. Once you’ve stamped the entire passport you can turn it in at the Visitors Bureau and you get prizes.
The Sandhills Pour Tour includes all the breweries in the Southern Pines, Pinehurst, Cameron, and Aberdeen.Locations include Southern Pines Brewing (both locations), Hatchet Brewing, Pinehurst Brewing, Railhouse Brewing, Southern Pines Growler Co, and even James Creek Cider House.
The Sandhills Wine Trail is a bit more spread out so you get to see more of the surrounding area.
Locations on the wine trail include Cypress Bend Vineyards, James Creek Cider House, Sandhills Winery, Triangle Wine Company, The Village Wine Shop, and The Wine Cellar.
This is a great way to participate in the Year of the Trail while supporting local businesses at the same time.
Special Year of the Trail Programs
There are three special programs running in 2023 to celebrate the Year of the Trail and encourage people to get outside.
Pinecone Pathways is a program where glass pinecones will be hidden along certain trails throughout Moore County. The pinecones were made by Starworks from a special mold funded by the Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). There will be a tag on each pinecone with a QR code where you can go to register and be entered to win prizes including a getaway to the Pinehurst area and a $250 gift card.
This will begin on March 20th and there are 100 pinecones in total that will be hidden in weekly increments.
Another program, the Sandhills Story Trail Adventures, features life-sized cutouts of Winnie the Pooh characters. Each character will have a QR code where you can read or listen to a chapter of the story that was created by the CVB.
The first trail will be set up on April 11th at Nick’s Creek and others will follow throughout the year.
Finally, the Carthage Digital Mural Trail is a trail of five murals in downtown Carthage that will have bronze plaques attached. All are within walking distance and the QR codes will lead to a short video about each mural.
The plaques will be installed and a reveal will be held Friday, May 12th.