WOW, is this a great weekend for getting out!

Wings Over Water, feet on cliff faces, heads in the sky and gorgeous fall weather. What better reasons for getting out this weekend?

Coast

If you’ve ever needed incentive to get outdoors, Wings Over Water is it. The appropriately acronymed “WOW,” in its 14th year, is a six-day celebration of the wildlife and natural history (as well as human history as it relates to the natural world) of Eastern North Carolina and the Outer Banks. Beginning this past Tuesday and running through Sunday, more than 100 guided programs are offered covering just about every element of the natural world in this surprisingly wild oasis on the eastern seaboard. Saturday alone, there are birding programs at Bodie Island, South Pond, Old Oregon Inlet, Cape Hatteras and Portsmouth Island; a tour exploring the natural and human history of Portsmouth Island village; digital photography workshops; an owl prowl; a sunset canoe tour of the Alligator River; and a night tram tour of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

Plus, this year’s Wings Over Water is family-friendlier than ever. Again, citing Saturday as an example, there are family-oriented programs on hummingbird banding, a tour of the Island Farm on Roanoke Island, a wildlife tracking program on Creef Cut, and a maritime forest family kayak tour.

Charges vary by program. Some are free, some include a fee generally in the $20 to $35 range. For a full rundown of events and more details, visit the Wings Over Water Web site.

Piedmont

You’re an adventurous type, but one thing you haven’t tried is rock climbing. It’s like pole vaulting, you think to yourself. How do you take that first leap? Maybe “leap” isn’t the best word in this context. But really, how does one get started climbing straight up a cliff? Saturday, one could show up for the Introduction to Outdoor Rock Climbing course at Crowders Mountain State Park.

Relax. This is one of the more advanced routes at Crowders Mountain.

Crowders Mountain is one of only four North Carolina State Parks that offers rock climbing. As such, you’d expect there to be some beginner-friendly routes, and there are (there are also routes that attract more accomplished climbers from throughout the region). Saturday’s course is offered by Carolina Outdoor Adventures, which bills itself as “the largest & most active sports and outdoor organization in the the Carolinas.” The instructor is American Mountain Guide Association-certified; over five hours you will learn the basics of climbing: top rope climb, equipment, knots, anchoring, belaying, communication signals, rating system, climbing techniques, and rappelling. All equipment is provided — including lunch and water. Cost is $80, $60 if you’re a member of REI. The class will be rescheduled, mercifully, in the event of a lightening-packed thunderstorm.

For more information and to register, go here.

Mountains

We’re still pushing hikes in the mountains: the fall color may have all but peaked, but the cool, dry days and cloudless, crisp skies of fall make this ideal hiking time. Sunday, the Carolina Mountain Club will do a 7.5-mile hike in the Smokies, much of it following the Cataloochee Divide Trail and taking in Purchase and Gooseberry knobs. Says a recent CMC scouting report:

Great hike with spectacular views on a clear day. Trails are all in good condition. Due to the upper road being gated and closed when the hike is done, we will hike the gravel road for 1.2 miles, and the distance will be too much to hike to Hemphill Bald. The hike will turn around at Gooseberry Knob overlook, which has chairs and an overlook platform on which to relax and enjoy the great views of the mountains and valleys.

The accompanying photo from Purchase Knob, courtesy of smokymountainconnection.com, verifies that. The hike begins at 10 a.m. Sunday, from below Purchase Knob. Go here for more information on the route, contact hike leader Bruce Bente — 828.692.0116, bbente@bellsouth.net — for help on getting to the trailhead.

* * *

Those are GGNC’s thoughts for an active weekend. Find out other ways you can get out this weekend by browsing our super calendar, a collection of events calendars from throughout the state, below.

Coast

CapeFearCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

NCCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).

Mountains

Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors
Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

The Mountain Times
From the main page, click on “Calendars,” then Main Events.

Piedmont

Charlotte

Charlotte Observer events calendar
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including Nature, Recreation, Recreation & Wellness, Running

Charlotte Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Triad

GoTriad.com
Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

Piedmont Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Triangle

Triangle.com
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including: Birding, Boating, Cycling, Nature, Rec & Wellness, Recreation, Running, Swimming, Tennis, Yoga.

Carolina Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Statewide

Office of Environmental Education
One calendar for the numerous Environmental Education Centers statewide.

North Carolina State Parks
Lets you search for programs at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas by location, by month, by topic. To reach the calendar from the home page, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks.”

National Forests in North Carolina
From the home page, click on Carolina Connections for news updates on the state’s four national forests as well as hints on recreational opportunities and a detailed rundown of recreation areas and the amenities at each.

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