Think Mayo River and you think paddling, whitewater paddling. When the river's up, the 18-mile-long (in North Carolina) Mayo boasts some of the Piedmont's most challenging rapids; Sections 1 and 3 both have some Class III water, according to Paul Ferguson's "Paddling Eastern North Carolina." Trail Running doesn't immediately come to mind because of a lack of public lands along the Mayo. But that changed in 2010, when the 1,967-acre Mayo River State Park entered the North Carolina State Parks system. And while paddling will be emphasized at this linear park, it does have a 2-mile trail that offers a quiet taste of the Piedmont. The Mayo Mountain Ridge Trail leaves the parking area in no particular hurry and begins climbing in no particular hurry. Not a hard climb; it's barely perceptible, in fact. But it doesn't quit until it's time to start making the mellow return, at about the one-mile mark. It's typical Piedmont hiking, through a maturing hardwood forest. It has less understory than you'll find most other places in the Piedmont, making for nice views and better-than-usual wildlife viewing opportunities. A foot-friendly tread and the gentle countryside make for a hike accessible to folks challenged by most natural surface hikes. A good option for out-of-town guests curious about this part of the country. More info: Mayo River State Park http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/mari/rules.php Maps: Downloadable here, http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/mari/directions.php available at the park.