Garner: Opinion

Visiting the place where trees talk

People who live in Johnston County have many amenities nearby, in the Triangle and at the coast certainly but also within the county’s borders.

Among the county’s jewels is Clemmons Educational State Forest just outside of Clayton. Where else can one go to listen to trees talk? Where else can one go to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life while getting close to the raw beauty of nature?

Few places in the region offer that kind of opportunity, and the folks who take care of the forest have worked hard to make visitors welcome.

For more than 35 years, chief ranger Michael Huffman has managed what is actually a working forest – the state harvests timber from the forest, with the money going to upkeep.

Clemmons is many other things. It is a place families can visit – young couples with kids and large families gathering for reunions under a pinnic shelter. It is an outdoor classroom for students, and thousands of young people visit every year from across North Carolina. It’s an escape from the fast-paced life we all lead every other day.

Increasingly, a growing Johnston County bills itself as destination for active families, and the forest is part of that. As simple as it may seem, a hike through the woods can be healthy for you. It can be entertaining. It can even be awe-inspiring.

The state-owned forest is open six days a week. Closed on Mondays, it is accessible, and it’s free.

So take your family out to explore what is rapidly becoming a thing of the past – a vast expanse of open space left largely as Mother Nature designed it – with help, of course, from the forest rangers.

Once you visit, you’ll become a lifetime fan.