This weekend: Forecast for fun

Take a test paddle (photo courtesy Great Outdoor Provision Co.)

Test a kayak, try a new wildlife refuge, tread (quickly) some stellar trail. There’s lots to do in North Carolina this coming spring weekend.

Coast

Been thinking about getting into flatwater paddling but confounded by the various boat options? Rec kayaks, touring kayaks, sea kayaks, sit-on-tops, inflatables … . Where’s a budding paddler to start?

If you’re in Wilmington Saturday you can start at Smith Creek Park, where from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. they’ll be hosting a Kayak Demonstration Day. All variety of kayaks (as well as canoes and stand-up paddleboards) will be available for you to take for a spin on friendly Smith Creek Lake. Certified instructors will be on hand to help and to answer questions.

Logistics: Saturday, April 19, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Smith Creek Park, Wilmington. Free. More info: 910.798.762 or jdellinger@nhcgov.com

Saturday forecast: High of 64, chance of rain.

Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge (photo courtesy U.S. National Wildlife Refuges)

Piedmont

When you think of the National Wildlife Refuges in the region,  your thoughts tend toward the coast: Alligator River, Pea Island, Mattamuskeet, Pocosin Lakes … . But just across the state line in South Carolina is a 46,000-acre preserve dedicated to restoring the longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem. the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge consists of 30 lakes and various creeks and tributaries, which help support 190 species of birds, 42 species of mammals, 41 species of reptiles and 25 species of amphibians, in addition to more than 750 plant species. It’s an area ideal for exploration.

Which is what the Reedy Creek Nature Center in Charlotte has in mind Saturday. As part of a monthly series, the center will spend the day exploring the refuge on a hike covering 6 to 8 miles of uneven terrain.

Logistics: Saturday, April 19, 8 a.m., Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, Chesterfield County, S.C. Lead by the Reedy Creek Nature Center of Charlotte. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. $12. 18 and older. For more info and to register: 704.432.6460.

Saturday forecast: High of 71, 40 percent chance of rain.

Photo courtesy Fletcher Parks & Rec.

Mountains

DuPont State Forest has about 100 miles of trail confined to a little more than 10,000 acres. And that’s a good thing, because just about every inch of this playground between Hendersonville and Brevard is view-worthy. That makes it a great spot to hike, to mountain bike, or to hold a 10K trail run.

The latter is the recreational transport of choice Saturday as the forest hosts the 2014 Morris Broadband 10K Trail Race. Beginning from Guion Farm in the forest, the race will utilize approximately 6.2 percent of DuPont’s trail network. Considering the up-and-down nature of the terrain, that will be just enough for many runners. Fletcher Parks and Rec hosts.

Logistics: Saturday, April 19, 9 a.m. (packet pickup is from 7:30-8:30 a.m.), Guion Farm, DuPont State Forest. $40. More info, call 828.687.0751 or g.walker@fletchernc.org.

Saturday forecast: High of 70, sunny.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed 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

Great Outdoor Provision Co.
Calendar includes three weekly events for each of its seven markets: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Search by market.

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.

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges
Rundown, by month, of regular activities at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges in North Carolina.

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