January 25, 2023

Four Unexpected Outdoor Hikes in Winston-Salem

As days get longer and warm weather begins to creep in, the urge to get outdoors and explore comes sweeping in. Fortunately, we've pulled together four unexpected outings right here in North Carolina that give a dose of history, along with some much-appreciated shady spots to cool off when they days get hot. With 2023 officially designated as the "NC Year of the Trail", there's no better time to get outside and explore! So grab your water bottle, your family and friends, and even bring Fido along for the journey; these outdoor adventures are pet-friendly and perfect for all ages!

1. Reynolda Mile: A Roaring 20's Gold Mine You can thank the famous Reynolds Tobacco family for this popular Winston-Salem walking/jogging trail. Katharine Reynolds, wife of R.J. Reynolds, first moved to the countryside in 1917 to build what would become Reynolda Estate. State your "hike" on the grounds of Reynolda House Museum of American Art (reynoldahouse.org), former home to the Reynolds Family during the Roaring 20's era and stroll the adjacent historic gardens where the original 1913 greenhouse still stands. Pop into Reynolda Village for a quick bite at May Way Dumplings before finding the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) (secca.org)across the road. This modern-day art museum is the historic home of the Hanes family -- most notable for their impact in the textile industry.

Up the way, less than a 10 minute walk is Historic Graylyn Estate (graylyn.com/), once home to Bowman and Nathalie Gray (Bowman was former president of Reynolds Tobacco Company). Hotel of choice for dignitaries such as Oprah Winfrey and a host of former presidents, this hotel (and international conference center) sits on 55 sprawling acres. Spread your wings as you wander the expansive lawns and stroll through the white gardens. Inside, hotel guests are treated to punch and Nathalie's recipe for her butterscotch cookies in honor of the family dogs that resided in the home, two Scottish Terriers named Butter and Scotch.

2. Hanging Rock State Park (http://www.ncparks.gov/hanging-rock-state-park) Twisted pathways lead to awe-inspiring waterfalls at Hanging Rock State Park, located just 30 minutes from downtown Winston-Salem. Choose from one of three trails to venture or head to the lake in the foothills for a dip. The paths here are wide enough for small children and pets to navigate without worry. Plan ahead and pack a picnic chock full of Winston-Salem goodies and don't forget the bottle of Yadkin Valley wine!

3. Salem Lake (http://www.cityofws.org/departments/recreation-parks/salem-lake) Surrounded by woods, the trail at Salem Lake is comfortable to hike along during the summer heat and the views don't hurt either. A course for all fitness levels, you can expect a few steep inclines balanced with flat-level paths. Be on the lookout for areas with access to the shore and so your kids can dip their toes in while you sit back and listen to the breeze whistling on the crystal waters.

4. Old Salem Museums & Gardens (www.oldsalem.org) Settled in 1766, Old Salem Museums & Parks provides an immersive living history experience to ticketed visitors and is tucked away on the edge of downtown with the city skyline as its backdrop. Enjoy walking along the cobblestone sidewalks, stopping into the gift shops and sampling treats at Winkler Bakery (America's oldest operating bakery, built in 1800). Bring a picnic and enjoy playtime in the pasture of Salem Square, situated in the middle of village and the center of all the action. Looking for a longer walk? You can connect to the Salem Strollway from here and continue your journey around historic Winston-Salem.

(Listed in no particular order)

Huge thanks to Ken Bennet for this post's featured image!