Running on campus every day can get boring and demotivating, so try a new location to re-energize your exercise.
Most people go to a germ box to exercise. We force ourselves to suffer in the sticky, smelly, stuffy and often-slimy atmosphere that comprises most gyms. Yuck.
However, we don’t need to go to these germ-infested places to stay slim. There are a plethora of outdoor places that students can go to for exercise near campus. Whether you’re a runner, a hiker, a biker, a climber or just a Sunday afternoon walker, at least one of the following spots will surely be worth you’re while.
Pilot Mountain State Park
Location: Approximately 21 miles from campus
Pilot Mountain is the quintessential hiking spot. It’s a bit of a drive, but if you’re craving some fresh air the distance is an afterthought. If you park at the main office, there is a great trail that is six miles round trip. If you’re looking for a shorter hike, you can drive to the top of the mountain and walk on some trails that surround the peak. Pilot Mountain is also a popular place for camping, climbing and picnicking.
Location: About nine miles from campus
The trail that surrounds Salem Lake is perfect for a seven-mile run or bike-ride. The path is well groomed, and on a nice day, there are plenty of visitors. Also, there are mile markers along the trail, so you can track how far you’ve gone. The trail is pretty flat — though the northern side is less hilly than the southern side. Visitors can also rent canoes and go fishing. Open from dawn until sunset, Salem Lake is an ideal spot to safely unwind in nature.
Location: Connected to campus. Follow the trail behind Winston Hall.
For seniors, this is a tried-and-true favorite, and for freshmen, this will be a new favorite discovery. If you haven’t checked out the trails around Reynolda Village, do it. There is one main wooded loop that’s about two miles in length, but there are also a handful of trails that diverge from the main path. There is a small pond and scenic surprises throughout. For example, Silas Creek winds through the forested area. Whether you’re looking for a running loop or a place to hangout with friends, the trails and grassy areas surrounding Reynolda Village are ideal.
Hanging Rock State Park
Location: About 27 miles from campus
This recommendation is the furthest from campus; however, it is arguably the most scenic. The main attraction at Hanging Rock is the hiking trail, which is about 2.5 miles round trip that leads to a giant rock overhang — this location offers incredible vistas of Appalachia. Now, 2.5 miles isn’t a very long hike, but most of it is a steep uphill walk, so visitors are sure to get a cardio workout. There are other outdoor activities at the State Park: visitors can wander to two small waterfalls, swim or fish in the lake or rock climb.
Next time you’re dragging yourself to the gym, consider some of these alternatives. A little sweat and sun never upset anyone.