This weekend: Sunny days ahead 

A boardwalk through Merchants Millpond.

After a long spell of rain, you owe it to yourself to spend the weekend outdoors. The opportunities for doing so abound.

Coast

How many chances do you get to run a 5K through a swamp? Not too many.

Saturday, though, you have the chance at the Millpond Day 5K Family Fun Run/Walk at Merchants Millpond State Park. The run is on park trail that winds through bottomland coastal forest and brushes against the park’s 760-acre millpond. It’s part of Millpond Day, a celebration that includes exhibits, programs, entertainment, kids activities, food and more. And, there’s always the opportunity to paddle the millpond in a rental canoe.

Logistics: Millpond Day 5K Family Fun Run/Walk, Saturday, April 29, 8:30 a.m. Merchants Millpond State Park, Gatesville. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny with a high of 92.

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Looking ahead: Carnivorous Plant Hike, Sunday, May 21, Carolina Beach State Park, Carolina Beach. More info here.

Piedmont

Mountain laurel

It’s early, but it’s worth the odds of catching the first bloom of mountain laurel in the state on Sunday’s weekly hike in the Eno River Association’s spring series. Mountain laurel, as its name might suggest, is typically found in the higher, cooler climes of the mountains. However, it’s also found in shaded, protected pockets of the Piedmont, including spots along the Eno River. One of those spots is on the appropriately named Laurel Bluffs Trail at Eno River State Park.

Sunday, the Eno River Association leads a hike on the trail in search of the lovely flower of the mountain laurel. The hike commences from the headquarters of the Eno River Association, at the corner of Guess Road and the Eno River, heads 2.5 miles upstream to the Pump Station Access, then returns.

Logistics: Laurel Bluffs Trail hike, Sunday, April 30, 2 p.m., Eno River Association office, 4404 Guess Road, Durham. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 85.

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Looking ahead: Can’t make Sunday’s hike? There are three more in the spring series. Learn when and where, here.

Mountains

You don’t often see a duathlon pairing whitewater kayaking and road cycling. But you do this weekend, at Jerry’s Baddle on and near the Green River of western North Carolina. Launched in 2006 to honor ALS victim Jerry Beckwith and to raise money for the ALS Association North Carolina Chapter, the event consists of 4 miles of whitewater paddling on the Green River followed by 26 miles of road cycling with 4,000 feet of total climbing.  Note: the whitewater portion includes the Class V Narrows portion of the Green River Gorge.

Logistics: Jerry’s Baddle, Saturday, April 29, Saluda. $55. More info here.

Sunday forecast: High of 81, chance of thunderstorms.

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Looking ahead: National Trails Day Hike to Mount Craig, Saturday, June 3, Mount Mitchell State Park, Burnsville. More info here.

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

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