Tag Archives: Dismal Swamp State Park

GetGoing! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

My senior year in high school I went to a new school. In football, we went 0-9, in basketball, 0-18. I always wondered how our cheerleaders could muster the enthusiasm, the optimism, to encourage us to push on. 

I find myself in a similar situation, facing a rainy weekend, wondering how to encourage y’all to put on a happy face and head out the door for a weekend of adventure. So … well, grab your rain gear and let’s head out! Some options … read more

GetOut! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

Rainy today, partly sunny tomorrow: Isn’t that how the adage goes? Or something along those lines? If not, well, so be it. That’s the forecast we’re dealing with, and it’s a pretty darn good one: clouds and rain move out overnight Friday, partly sunny skies and temps in the low 60s move in — perfect weather for a weekend of exploring60Some options:

  • State Park Days at the Coast, Saturday, daylong, Dismal Swamp, Jones Lake, and Merchants Millpond state parks. The last weekend in October appears to be the time to celebrate our coastal state parks, for three of them are having their Days: Dismal Swamp State Park (including a 5K as part of Dismal Day) from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Jones Lake State Park (with

    Friends of the Bay Lakes Fall Festival read more

GetOut! Your Nudge to get out this weekend

Yeah, it’s still hot. But over the past couple of weeks we’ve had delightful dalliances with low humidity. Low meaning less than 50 percent, but low enough to put a little bounce in your step. This weekend, we hope to help you get the most of that bounce with a suggestion or two on what you can do.

Night Hike Adventure, Saturday, 8:30 p.m. Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson. Hike at night: that’s something you typically can’t do (legally, at least) in a state park. Saturday is the exception, when a ranger takes you on a tour of the trails atop Mount Jefferson. Sans clouds you’ll see the day’s fading light on some of the Southeast’s most notable peaks. Bring a flashlight for the times you’ll be hiking and not gawking. More into and register here.

Canoe the Mayo, Saturday, 10 a.m. Mayo River State Park, Mayodan. Paddling a river can be a bit of a production even if you have a boat, costly if you don’t. Just one reason we like this periodic paddle trip at Mayo River State Park. The Mayo is a fairly intimate river that’ll you get to spend 4 to 5 hours on (depending upon water levels). Free, put you will need to make your own arrangements to get back to your car at the put-in. More info and register here.

Bike to the Burn, Sunday, 9:30 a.m. Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills. Notice this this is called Bike to the Burn, not Bike ’til you Burn, the key distinction is this won’t be like that spin class you tried at the gym a couple years back. Rather, you’ll pedal with Ranger Joe out to the site of the swamp’s last wildfire (a wildfire in a swamp — that alone is incentive to attend). About 17 miles total, with no one screaming at you to climb out of the saddle and PUSH! No bike, no problem; you can borrow one. More info and register here.

You can also join our GetHiking! group on a pair of hikes this weekend:

=&3=&, Saturday, 9 a.m., Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake. 5 miles. We hike a section of the MST we haven’t hiked in a while, the 5-mile run from Cheek Road east to just past Little Lick Creek. Not as hilly as much of the MST along Falls Lake, and a tight-wire crossing of Little Lick Creek. An easy to moderate hike, depending upon how much you’ve been hiking. More info and register here.

=&4=& Sunday, 10 a.m., Confluence Natural Area, Hillsborough. Earlier this year, the Eno River Association opened the Confluence Natural Area, a 200-acre preserve at the confluence of the East and West branches of the Eno River in Orange County. We’ll hike two mellow miles and get to know this new preserve. 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 last weekend, featured in the video, by visiting the web sites for Little River Regional Park and =&9=&

This weekend: Get wet, go high 

Mount Jefferson (photo courtesy Jason Barnette, Southeastern Traveler)

Another hot, summery weekend is on tap, which means you have two choices for outdoor fun: get wet or go high.


Not that you need a reason to visit the Great Dismal Swamp, but if you did …

Saturday, join a ranger on an intimate Summer Paddle of the Dismal Swamp Canal at Dismal Swamp State Park north of Elizabeth City. Everything you need — boat, paddle, PFD, basic instruction — is provided. That last part — basic instruction — should be even more incentive for those of you who’ve never paddled.

About the “intimate” part: though the trip is free, it’s limited to eight boats. Pre-register — before it’s too late.

Logistics: Summer Paddle, Saturday, July 8, 10 a.m., Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills. Free, but pre-registration is required because there are only eight boats, by calling 252.771.6593.

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny and a temperature of 84 at 10 a.m.

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Looking ahead: Too short of notice? This summer paddle will be repeated next Saturday, July 15. More info here.



Too hot for a hike? How about a boat race — using tiny boats you craft out of recycled materials?

First, at Saturday morning’s Build-a-Boat at Eno River State Park, you’ll craft a boat out of recycled materials — bring your own or they’ll have some on hand. Then, you’ll race against other boat builders in the cool waters of the Eno, at Fews Ford.

Logistics: Build-a-Boat, Saturday, July 8, 9 a.m., Eno River State Park (meet at the Piper Cox House at the park’s Fews Ford Access. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Sunny, with a 9 a.m. temperature of 79.

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Looking ahead: Can’t make Saturday morning’s Build-a-Boat? The event repeats Saturday, July 29 at noon. More info here.


D’ja ever wonder about the weather on top of a mountain? About the highest wind gusts ever recorded? Lowest temperature? Most snow?

Likewise, who hasn’t wondered how they record that information? Saturday is your chance to have these questions answered at Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. Setting out from the picnic area, you’ll make the short clime to MJ’s 4,683-foot summit, home to a North Carolina Climate Office data collection tower, where the mountain will reveal her climatological secrets during the Mount Jefferson’s Climate Tower program.

Logistics: Mount Jefferson’s Climate Tower, Saturday, July 8, 2 p.m., Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny with a high of 76.

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Looking ahead: Can’t make Saturday’s hike, but intrigued all the same by Mount Jefferson? Then consider the Rock Outcrop Hike at the park on Saturday, July 29. More 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 read more

This weekend: Water rules

A busy day on the Dismal Swamp Canal (Paddle for the Border)

It’s summer, it’s time to hit the water.


High on the list of many reasons we enjoy the adventure life in North Carolina is the opportunity to paddle a swamp. Does any location scream adventure more than a swamp? Slowly making your way through the tupelo gum and cypress weeping Spanish moss, paddle in hand, wary eye cast into the jungle beyond … throw in a bottle of gin and a dame and it’s “The African Queen” in our own backyard.

A bit of hyperbole, perhaps. But really, what a great adventure and what better place to have it than in the Great Dismal Swamp, the swamp that sets the swamp standard.

And what better way to explore the swamp of swamps than on a ranger-led tour, where all the key equipment — save bug spray — is provided. The adventure begins at 1 p.m. Saturday from the boat launch at Dismal Swamp State Park.

Logistics: Saturday, Aug. 29, 1 p.m., Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills. Free, but space is limited; preregister by calling 252.771-6593.

Saturday forecast: Sunny, high of 84.

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Looking ahead: Of the many times we’ve been told to go jump in a lake over the years, we’ve never been offended by the suggestion. Rather, we’ve heeded the advice, always to our delight. So we see no reason to believe you’ll be offended by the Sept. 6 Go Jump in the Lake 5K, 10K & Fun Run at Springs Lake Park in Boiling Springs Lake. More info here.


It’s like a mountain paddle without having to drive to the mountains. Actually, you do drive to the mountains, but in this case, the Uwharrie Mountains, conveniently located in the heart of the Piedmont.

Saturday, Morrow Mountain State Park on the west edge of the Uwharries offers Introduction to Canoeing on Lake Tillery, which includes a lovely mountain backdrop. Learn something new and learn it in a scenic setting. Hard to beat that.

Logistics: Saturday, Aug. 29, 9-11 a.m., Morrow Mountain State Park, Albemarle. Free, but space is limited; reserve a spot by calling 704.982.4402.

Saturday forecast: Sunny, high of 89.

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Looking ahead: UGG: that’s the onomatopoetically appropriate acronym for the Umstead Gravel Grinder mountain bike races of 50 and 100 miles at Umstead State Park in Raleigh on Oct. 31. More info here.


Fly fishing: you’ve likely been intrigued by the notion, but have had no idea how get into — or at least sample — the pursuit. Perhaps you’ve been intimidated by the perceived cost as well.

Sunday, South Mountains State Park offers the opportunity to wade and sample the sport with Fly Fishing 101. The class will be taught by Jeff Newton and Bob Tupper, both instructors with Project Healing Waters, both members of Trout Unlimited. All materials provided. Learn a thing, then test your new skills on Jacob Fork. (North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission fishing regulations apply.)

Logistics: Sunday, Aug. 30, 2 p.m., South Mountains State Park, Connelly Springs. 828.433-4772 to reserve a spot.

Sunday forecast: High of 83, chance of thunderstorms.

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Looking ahead: Why the Southcliff Black & Blue Classic trail race on Sept. 19? Because the race organizers promise “the best prizes and post-race party of any [race] in the area including a catered lunch and beer.” Details 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 read more