This weekend: Find a swan, a bald, your way

Tens of thousands of tundra swans make their way south from Canada to the North Carolina coast every year, never once stopping to ask directions. Yet we got lost between the parking lot and the trailhead. Check out those navigationally gifted tundra swans at the coast this weekend, or learn how to successfully find the trailhead in the Piedmont. Or, go to the mountains and climb a high bald you’ve likely never heard.


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Tundra swan, photo courtesy
We typically think of the North Carolina coast as being deserted during the non-touristed months of late fall and winter. Truth be told, all along the coast the population skyrockets with visitors — a true snowbirds — from the north.

Come to Goose Creek State Park near Washington Sunday and discover just who these visitors are, at Waterfowl of the Pamlico. Check out the mounts (of past visitors), then “learn about the many different kinds of waterfowl that visit the area each winter. We’ll discuss migration, waterfowl biology and life cycles.”

Afterward, explore the 7 miles of trail at Goose Creek and test your newfound knowledge with a little birding.

Logistics: Sunday, Nov. 15, 2 p.m., Visitor Center at Goose Creek State Park, Washington. More info here.

Sunday forecast: Sunny, high of 58.

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Looking ahead: Two T-Day Turkey Trots: Habitat for Humanity Turkey Trot, 7 a.m., Wrightsville Beach Park; Gallop for the Gravy 5K, Wilmington Family YMCA


WP.PiedmontWouldn’t you feel better venturing into the woods if you could at least read a map? And imagine the euphoria over being able to use a map and a compass to figure your way out of a jam!

That confident explorer could be you if you attend Saturday’s Basic Land Navigation at Umstead State Park in Raleigh. A short discussion will be followed by a “field exercise.” Dress for exploring off trail.

Logistics: Saturday, Nov. 14, 2 a.m., Umstead State Park, Raleigh. Learn more and secure a spot by dialing 919.571.4170.

Saturday forecast: Sunny, high of 59.

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Looking ahead: Camp Craggy Walk-A-Bout, a walk into history at Umstead State Park on Dec. 19. More here.


Sandy Mush Bald (photo courtesy
Sandy Mush Bald (photo courtesy

The majority of places we explore in the mountains are on public lands, in the Nantahala National Forest, the Pisgah National Forest, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or along the Blue Ridge Parkway. But there are private and quasi-public lands that offer great exploring as well.

Saturday, you’ll have a chance to explore one of these lesser-known treasures with the Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy. Starting at 9 a.m., the conservancy will lead a “strenuous guided hike” up Little Sandy Mush Bald, at 5,152 feet the highest point in Madison County and is owned by the Long Branch Environmental Education Center. Learn more about the area at

The hike will be followed by a good ol’-fashioned storytelling at the Addison Farms Family Vineyard.

Logistics: Saturday, Nov. 14, 9 a.m., Long Branch Environmental Education Center, Madison County. $10, free for members of the Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Sunny, high of 52.

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Looking ahead: Wintergreen Hike, every Saturday in December, South Mountains State Park. Info here.

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

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.
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).


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



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.

Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

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

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.


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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