This weekend: Hot, dry fun

The weather appears cooperative this weekend for a variety of pursuits, from stargazing to paddling to pedaling.

Look! Up in the sky!

Coast

Among the coastal plains numerous outdoors attributes: less light pollution. That’s especially groovy if you like stargazing. If you’re not sure you like stargazing, find out Saturday evening at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park when park rangers encourage you to spread out on a blanket and learn the constellations and others things astronomical.

Logistics: Saturday evening, July 26, 9 p.m., Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, Seven Springs (south of Goldsboro). More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 92, dropping to 75 overnight. More importantly: only spotty clouds.

Paddle the pond

Piedmont

Lately, we’ve been talking with a lot of folks interested in paddling. But how to do it with a limited investment — both in time and money — to see if it’s really something to pursue?

Thanks to your local and state parks, options abound. Options such as Saturday’s Paddle the Pond adventure at Yates Mill Pond, the nexus of Historic Yates Mill County Park in Raleigh. It’s an hour-long program, it’s just $10 per boat and all equipment is provided. You can’t beat that.

Logistics: Saturday, July 26, 10 a.m., Historic Yates Mill County Park, Raleigh. $10. Preregistration required, by dialing 919.856.6675.

Saturday forecast: Great for paddling, with a high of 91 and a smattering of clouds.

Fourteen miles of mountain bike trail opened at Lake James this spring.

Mountains

This week’s high country recommendation isn’t for an event; rather, for a destination: Lake James State Park.

The park’s been getting some buzz of late for its action-oriented expansion: 20 new boat-in only campsites will open this fall, design just began for a new 30-site drive-in campground (this in addition to its existing 20 backpack camp sites along the lake), and more to the point, the park this past spring opened a 14-mile mountain bike trail network — big news in a park system that’s been slow to respond to mountain biking. The park also has 10 miles of hiking trail and canoe and kayak rentals on the 6,800-acre lake. Check it out; it's worth the ramble.

Logistics: Lake James State Park, Nebo, summer hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Learn more here.

Weekend forecast: Pretty good!

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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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