This weekend: Celebrate a trail!

Saturday is National Trails Day, a time when we pay homage to the more than 200,000 miles of recreational pathways across the land that deliver us from the challenges of day-to-day life. Be it a foot path, a bike path, a canoe trail or a horse trail, events nationwide will give us a chance to either celebrate our trails by using them, or honor them by sprucing ’em up.

The sponsoring American Hiking Society lists 31 National Trails Day events in North Carolina. From that list, which you can find in its entirety here, we’ve pulled three activities — at the coast, in the Piedmont and in the mountains — that we think you’ll find particularly appealing.

Coast

Paddle3The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge occupies 153,000 acres of some of the most ecologically impressive terrain in North Carolina. Situated on a spit of rich organic and mineral soils on a peninsula between the mainland and the Outer Banks, the refuge is known largely for its diverse cast of critters, black bears, red wolves, coyotes and alligators among them.

But it also supports a range of ecosystems, including Atlantic white cedar forest, bay forest, brackish and freshwater marshes, cyrpress-gum forest, freshwater lakes and ponds, high shrub pocosins … the list goes on. It’s one of those places where you wish you knew at least a few of the key players.

That can happen Saturday, on a Plant and Tree ID Hike in the refuge. Local plant expert Bob Glennon leads a hike not only identifying plants but explaining the role they play in the overall scheme of things. The hike is on the half-mile-long, handicap accessible Creef Cut Trail.

Logistics: Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, off Milltail Road. For more information call 252.475.4180 or visit here.

Saturday forecast: High of 77, chance of rain.

Looking ahead: From National Trails Day this Saturday to National Get Outdoors Day next Saturday, the outdoors celebration continues. As part of NGOD, Dismal Swamp State Park is holding a Summer Paddle at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 13, all equipment included. More info by calling 252.771.6593.

Piedmont

Volksmarch-Logo_V2Here in the U.S., we largely hike to forget. OK, perhaps “forget” is a little extreme, suggesting that we hike with a hiking staff in one hand, a bottle in the other. Rather, we hike to help cope with the stress of often chaotic lives. Put us on a trail, let our minds wander, we’re happy.

They likely hike for similar reasons in Germany and in the rest of Europe, but they also tend to hike with a sense of purpose, banding together into “volksmarch” clubs and hiking predetermined routes based on intriguing points of interest. And, they also like to get credit for their hikes, earning stamps, pins and patches on their merry, marching way.

Saturday, the Triangle Volksmarch will give locals a sense of the volksmarch ethic. Sponsored by N.C. State Parks, Public Lands Every Day and Great Outdoor Provision Co., this 5.6-mile hike will bridge the N.C. Museum of Art and Umstead State Park, with stops along the way at the Prairie Ridge EcoStation and N.C. State University’s Schenck Forest. Each location yields a learning experience — and a stamp! Afterwards, from 4-7 p.m., attend an after party at Great Outdoor Provision Co. in Raleigh’s Cameron Village.

Hike on your own anytime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or tag along with GetHiking! Triangle, which will start at 2 p.m.

Logistics: Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., N.C. Museum of Art/Umstead State Park (Harrison Avenue entrance), Raleigh. For information on the hike and for related activities throughout the day, go here. If you’d like to march with GetHiking! Triangle, go here for details and to sign up.

Saturday forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 85 with, of course, a chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

Looking ahead: Also on the agenda for National Get Outdoors Day: A 3-mile Get Outdoors Hike at Hanging Rock State Park to House Rock for a “free “Home Tour” of every room – rarely seen by visitors.” Intrigued? Call 336.593.8480 for details.

Mountains

EmeraldOutbackTrail-4wWe hate it when a trail network closes, even temporarily. We love it, though, when it reopens, new and improved.

Saturday is the grand reopening of the eight-mile Emerald Outback trail network at Beech Mountain. Initially a hiking trail, the trail has been redesigned to accommodate hikers and mountain bikers. The system is a mix of single- and double-track trail, and takes in lots of great views from Beech Mountain’s 5,400-foot summit (it bills itself as “one of the highest trail parks east of the Rockies”). In spots, you’ll be reminded of biking/hiking in the West.

The grand opening includes guided hikes and bike rides, food, live entertainment, clinics and if you don’t have a bike, demos will be available for loan.

Logistics: Saturday, 10 a.m. until nighttime, Beech Mountain. Free, for more information, go here.

Saturday forecast: High of 73, partly cloudy in the morning, a growing chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Looking ahead: Afraid that you’ve missed the spring wildflower season? They’re still out in the higher elevations, such as Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, site of a Wildflower Hike Saturday, June 13, at 2 p.m. Call 336.246.9653 for details.

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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 coastal 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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