There are plenty of highlights when it comes to outdoor recreation in High Point. There is fun on the land (hiking, cycling, golf, tennis) and much to do on the water as well (canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming).
“We have a lot of outdoor recreational opportunities in a lot of different areas,” City of High Point Parks & Recreation director Lee Tillery says. “The diversity of what we have to offer makes this area special.”
It’s easy to begin your outdoor adventures with a walk in the park, because there are 43 parks throughout the city, comprising more than 3,000 acres. Among the most popular are City Lake Park (with a 340-acre lake, a 750,000-gallon swimming pool and a miniature train ride), 200-acre Gibson Park (which has two ballfields and 8 miles of nature trails) and Armstrong Park (with four courts for the racquet sport pickleball).
“We also have some mini-parks that are less than an acre in size,” Tillery says. “And there’s a lot of history with these parks. Some have been in place since the 1930s.”
Water activities include a 30-passenger boat excursion at City Lake Park, which Tillery says is especially popular during the fall when the leaves are changing on the surrounding shoreline. There are also numerous spots for boating, Jet Skiing, kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding.
The 800-acre Oak Hollow Lake is part of the 1,550-acre Oak Hollow Park complex, where anglers can fish for bass and crappie. The High Point Rowing Club offers recreational and competitive rowing opportunities on the lake, and the Oak Hollow Sailing Club holds an annual regatta there in September.
Oak Hollow is also one of the premier camping locations in High Point, with more than 100 RV sites. “The campground is located on the outskirts of the lake, so the scenery around there is really nice,” Tillery says.
There are two greenway systems in the area, the High Point Greenway and the Bicentennial Greenway. They are scheduled to connect by early 2019, which will provide more than 20 miles of linear trails for cycling, hiking, running and walking.
The Bicentennial Greenway already connects to one of the jewels of High Point, the Piedmont Environmental Center. Founded in 1972, the PEC consists of 376 acres of forest land on the west side of City Lake. There are 11 miles of walking trails throughout the forest, which is home to deer, turkeys and songbirds.
The PEC provides 30 different nature programs for children in grades K-12, as well as some college courses. In addition, the center offers public nature hikes and overnight kayak and canoe eco-tours.
“It’s important to have a place to escape the everyday hustle and bustle of modern life and just go for a hike in the woods,” PEC director Dick Thomas says. “A place where children can learn about nature, and we can all experience something far greater than ourselves. Where you can just sit and listen to birds sing or watch a small herd of deer feed. That’s intrinsically important to quality of life.”