Category Archives: Nature programs

GetOut! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

We’re finally in full leaf-out and had our first taste of summertime temperatures. Some thoughts on how you can get out and enjoy.

16th Annual Paddle for the Border, Saturday, 8 a.m., Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills. Picture one of those races where they release hundreds of tiny rubber ducks into a stream. Now, instead of tiny ducks, picture hundreds of paddlers. Crazy, no? That’s the craziness you’ll find this weekend as hundreds of paddlers make their way from the park up the Dismal Swamp Canal to the Virginia border. About a 7.5-mile paddle. Check it out here. read more

GetOut! Your Friday Nudge for Weekend Adventure

What to do on the last weekend of July? We have a thought or two …

Geology of Stone Mountain, Saturday, 9 a.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap. No doubt you’ve looked at that strange forehead protruding from the ground, the one from which Stone Mountain gets its name, and wondered, How did that happen? Here, at this one hour program at the Hutchinson Homestead, is your chance to find out. And if you’re left at the end yearning for more, eager to know all about Stone Mountain, then stick around until 2 p.m. for “All About Stone Mountain.” (You can do some hiking in between to pass the time.) For more info on both programs and to register, go here.

=&1=&, Saturday, 8 p.m., Haw River State Park Iron Ore Belt Access, Greensboro. We love a night hike, and we especially love one where we’re not compelled to watch our every footstep to avoid rocks and roots in the trail. On the smooth-as-sandstone 3.8-mile Great Blue Heron Trail you’ll be able to focus on the wonder of the night. Bring a flashlight/headlamp with red or blue filter, bring bug spray and water. For more info and to register, go here.

=&2=&, Sunday, 11 a.m., Mount Mitchell State Park. Visiting Mount Mitchell, which tops out at 6,684 feet, is like visiting another world — so many unusual things to see at that elevation. Sunday, let a ranger explain what it is your seeing and why it’s there on this guided hike on the Balsam Trail. More info and register here.

You can find more opportunities this weekend here:

  • North Carolina State Parks have a variety of adventures planned for the weekend. Check those options here.
  • North Carolina Environmental Education Centers has an extensive calendar of what’s happening at its affiliates; check it out here.
  • You can also find more adventures right here, at GetGoingNC.com.

And learn more about where we spent this past week, featured in the video, by visiting the web sites for

Umstead State Park read more

This weekend: Embrace the approaching gloom

Don’t forget your eclipse-viewing safety glasses!

Based on dire warnings from N.C. Department of Transportation message boards statewide (“Plan Ahead”!), we’re guessing that pert near everyone is resting up this weekend for the day of gathering gloom on Monday. Thus, we focus on events focused on the Sun’s disappearance Monday afternoon around 2:30.

Coast

The North Carolina coast is outside the range of total obliteration; Wilmington, at 96 percent obfuscation, is about as close as you’ll get. With a variety of events planned, we like the Solar Eclipse Party planned at Airlie Gardens in conjunction with the Cape Fear Museum, New Hanover County Library and the National Weather Service. They’ll provide those hard-to-get viewing glasses (numbers are limited; first come, first serve), plus family-friendly games, educational activities and more.

Logistics: Solar Eclipse Party, Monday, August 21, 12:30-3:30 p.m., Airlie Gardens, Wilmington. $3-$9. More info here.

Monday forecast: High of 87, chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

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Piedmont

North Carolina State Parks has several viewing events planned, including many in the Piedmont (find a complete list here.)

Centrally located, in Greensboro, is the Solar Eclipse Viewing party planned for Haw River State Park at their Iron Ore Belt Access. The viewing will be from the grassy recreation field near the parking lot, offering a sweeping view to the south and west. Arrive early and hike the 3.8-mile Great Blue Heron lollipop loop — but be sure to get back in time to score one of 70 pairs of eclipse-viewing glasses available.

Logistics: Solar Eclipse Viewing, Monday, Aug. 21, 2-3 p.m., Haw River State Park, Greensboro. More info here.

Monday forecast: High of 89, sunny.

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Mountains

The land will go dark for as long as 2 minutes and 39 seconds in far southwestern North Carolina. Bryson City, Cashiers, Sylva and other towns in the path of Totality have big events planned; Clingmans Dome is a ticketed event, the road to the top closed except to the shuttled few. The Blue Ridge Parkway? West of Pisgah Inn, the nation’s most famous scenic parkway will resemble Charlotte’s I-485 at rush hour. Expect mountain traffic like you’ve never seen.

Committed to the total experience? For our friends at Great Outdoor Provision Co., we compiled a list of five mountain peaks where, with a little legwork, you should be able to experience the eclipse minus the maddening crowds. Find that list here.

If you’re fine with the group experience, RomanticAsheville.com has put together a pretty comprehensive list of events; find that rundown here.

Monday forecast: The forecast for Andrews: high of 85 under clear skies.

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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 read more

This weekend: A grand opening, a world premier 

The view from atop Elk Knob

It is one gala weekend in North Carolina, from the grand opening of the new Discovery Room at Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve to the world premiere of the Hanging Rock State Park Players’ “A Town Without Spiders.” Dress for both, you’ll be relieved to hear, is hiking casual.

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Who doesn’t like a grand opening, especially when it involves the world of discovery (as opposed to the world of retail).

Saturday, Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve in Southern Pines unveils its new Discovery Room, which features all sorts of hands-on ways to learn about the outdoors. Bring the kids for a day of nature games, tinkering with a kid-friendly microscope, drawing with sidewalk chalk, making crafts, watching birds up close and more. Plus, the opportunity to win a door prize!

Afterward, plan a hike on Weymouth Woods’ 4-mile trail network.

Logistics: Grand Opening of the New Weymouth Woods Sandhills Discovery Room, Saturday, July 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve, Southern Pines. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 85.

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Looking ahead: Every Wednesday, join volunteers from Lake Gaston Outfitters for a mountain bike ride at Medoc Mountain State Park. 6-8:30 p.m., Medoc Mountain State Park, Hollister. More info here.

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There are lots of reasons to visit Hanging Rock State Park: the plethora of views, the passel of waterfalls, the preponderance of paths. This Saturday, add to that list a theatrical performance.

Introducing the Hanging Rock State Park Players and the premier of “A Town Without Spiders,” a parable about a world — or at least a town — without spiders. Think the presence of spiders is scary? TWS envisions just how scary a world it would be without spiders. Watch what happens when a “well-intentioned, but misguided effort to ban arachnids goes terribly awry … .”

This is an evening performance, in the campground amphitheater, allowing time for a preperformance hike.

Logistics: “A Town Without Spiders,” performed by the Hanging Rock State Park Theatrical Troupe,” Saturday, July 29, curtain rises at 7:30 p.m., Campground Amphitheater, Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Chance of afternoon rain, high of 80.

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Looking ahead: First weekend of every month, the trails at the Vader Mecum addition to Hanging Rock State Park are open. More info here.

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Two weeks ago, we had the privilege of taking a group from SAS Institute on a hike at Elk Knob State Park. The hike was up one of the most well-designed trails in the state, the 2-mile Summit Trail, which links the main parking area with the 5,520-foot summit. Along the way was a cornucopia of flora, some edible, some poisonous, some rare, some exotic. Along the way, you couldn’t help wondering what was which.

Saturday, get a chance to learn about the plant life along this high-altitude trail on a ranger-led Summer Wildflower Hike. Learn a thing, then enjoy one of the best views in the state from the summit.

Logistics: Summer Wildflower Hike, Saturday, July 29, 2 p.m., Elk Knob State Park, Todd. More info here .

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 70.

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Looking ahead: Elk Knob Community Headwaters Day, Saturday, Sept. 9, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Elk Knob State Park, Todd. More info here.

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

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 read more

This weekend: Explore, Party 

Good times on the Lumber River

This week, hikes and a paddle with something extra.

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Exploring is great. Exploring with a party thrown in, even greater!

That’s the situation Saturday at Lumber River State Park, site of the Lumber River Day Festival 2017. There’s exploring, in the form of free canoe rides on the Lumber River. And there’s fun stuff in the form of bluegrass music, pony rides, a casting contest (for kids), miniature train rides, a bouncy house, food (including ice cream) and more.

Logistics: Lumber River Day Festival 2017, Saturday, July 22, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Lumber River State Park, Princess Ann Access, Orrum. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 95.

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Looking ahead: Ecology Hike, Aug. 5, Pettigrew State Park, Creswell. More info here.

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Exploring, with a party, II: Hanging Rock State Park: known for its great hiking, its incredible views, its waterfalls. Sounds like a great day in itself, no? How about throwing in a Farmers Market?

From 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., local vendors and farmers will set up shop in the ample parking area outside the Visitor Center offering homegrown produce, crafts and more. Provided by Stokes Future, a Stokes County nonprofit “designed to help feed our own, employ our own, and prosper.”

As for the hiking: for a short hike with views, check out the Hanging Rock Trail; for a hike with views that escapes the crowds, check out the Moore’s Wall Trail; and for waterfalls, Indian Creek Trail gives you two in about the first half mile.

Logistics: Hanging Rock Farmer’s Market, Saturday, July 22, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 94.

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Looking ahead: Can’t make this Farmer’s Market at Hanging Rock? It repeats every Saturday at 11 a.m. Through Nov. 11. More info here.

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Exploring, with a party III: OK, a mini-party. A T-shirt-making party, actually. But with cool t-shirts designed with leaves and fabric paints. T-shirts and materials are free, while supplies last, atop Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. And, it’s for kids 6-13.

Sporting their new t-shirts, your kids will be in the mood for a hike. May we recommend looping together the Rhododendron Trail and Lost Province Trail, with a sidebar to Luther Rock. Some great views and intimate passages through northern hardwood forest.

Logistics: Trees And Tees’ Paint Your Own Tee-Shirt, Saturday, July 22, 2 p.m., Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 84, chance of a thunderstorm.

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Looking ahead: Moonlight Paddle, Friday, Aug. 4, New River State Park, West Jefferson. More info here.

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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 read more