Weekend Plans? Plan to try something new

Tote that bike! Cyclo-cross racers give their bikes a lift. (Photo: BostonBiker.org)

Maybe you’ve been fishing, maybe you’ve kayaked — but have you fished from a kayak? Maybe you consider yourself an avid hiker. But how many times do you venture off the trail for some real exploring? Or maybe it’s time you tried the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of cycling: cyclo-cross. An array of new experiences await this weekend in North Carolina.

Coast

Kayak fishing is a little like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup: Two great things on their own that combined are even better than you’d think. A kayak is quiet; it lets you sneak up on the fish. And you can maneuver it into all sorts of tight spots — spots inaccessible to power boats or from shore — where fish may be lurking. Learn the basics of saltwater trout fishing from a kayak at Saturday’s clinic held by the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort. Kayak is provided, you need to bring at rod and a valid fishing license.

Logistics: Saturday, Dec. 15, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., $55. More info by calling 252-728-7317 or by going here.

Saturday forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 61.

You blaze your own trail on an off-trail hike.

Piedmont

One of the joys of winter hiking? Hiking off-trail. In this part of the world an off-trail hike is difficult during warm weather, what with the tangle of lush underbrush and the critters who live therein to deal with. But come winter, the barren landscape invites an off-trail excursion. Of course, it’s best to explore off trail with someone who knows the terrain, someone along the lines of a park ranger, like the one leading Saturday’s Backcountry Hike: Christmas in Nature journey at Lake Norman State Park in Statesville. This 1.5-hour hike is deemed strenuous and will focus on “the plants and animals that have historic connections to Christmas.”

Logistics: Saturday, Dec. 15, 1 p.m., Lake Norman State Park, Statesville. Free. More info:  (704) 528-6350

Saturday forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 59.

Fishing kayaks come with all sorts of accessories.

Mountains

Cyclo-cross, that European contrivance of the mid-20th century intended to keep road racers out of trouble during the off-season, has established a firm hold in the states over the past decade, this state included. For the uninitiated, cyclo-cross is something of a mix between road riding and mountain biking: the event takes place on a bike resembling a road bike, but with think knobby tires. That bike is then raced on an off-trail course akin to a steeplechase course. Ride some, hike-a-bike some.

Get a feel for this hybrid event this weekend at the UCI-North Carolina Cyclo-Cross Grand Prix at Jackson Park in Hendersonville. There’s action in assorted categories (including those suitable for newcomers), starting at 9 a.m. Entry fees start at $20, kids race fee.

Logistics: Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15-16 starting at 9 a.m., at Jackson Park in Hendersonville. Entry fees start at $20. For more info or to register, go here.

Saturday forecast: Highs around 60 both days, 40 percent chance of rain Sunday.

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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.

Todd’s Calendar

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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