Tag Archives: Dismal Swamp

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 Nudge to Get Out this Weekend

The weekend forecast calls for a little rain — but not of biblical proportions. With temperatures in the low 80s and upper 70s under mostly sunny skies, the weekend couldn’t be much different than last. So get out and enjoy.

First, though, before heading out on your own, keep in mind that some of our favorite outdoor playgrounds remain closed by Hurricane Florence. Check this post from earlier in the week  about checking ahead to see what is, and isn’t, open. For instance, most North Carolina State Parks from Jordan Lake southeast to the coast remain closed (with the exception of Fort Fisher State Recreation Area).

Now, a recommendation or three:

=&0=&, Lake Norman State Park, Troutman, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Did we mention it’s that Saturday is the first day of fall? What better way to enjoy the debut of autumn than with a hike along the shoreline of Norwood and Hicks creeks in search of the first signs of fall color. More info here.

=&1=&, Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills, Sunday, 11 a.m. On the second day of fall, take a ride on an open air wagon down Canal Road and “See the park’s liquor still [presumably retired] and lighter boat replicas … .” Then stick around and hike or bike on the park’s 16.7-mile trail network. More info here.

=&2=&, Crowders Mountain State Park, Kings Mountain, Sunday, 8 a.m. Our GetHiking! Charlotte group gets an early start on a 6-mile hike exploring Kings Pinnacle. More info here.

Plus, you can also find more adventures right here, at GetGoingNC.com.

For information on the locations featured in this week’s GetOut! video, check out the sites for Eno River State Park and Umstead State Park.

Resources for a steamy weekend of cool, wet fun

We’re staring down the first steamy weekend of the summer. Frankly, I’m hard pressed to think of something to do outdoors that doesn’t involve water.

There’s swimming, of course. At your local pool (search for local parks and rec departments with pools at the North Carolina Recreation & Parks Association Web site), at a trusted swimming hole (find 76 in North Carolina at SwimmingHoles.org), at the coast (find Outer Banks beaches here, Wilmington area beaches here and assorted other beaches here.

There’s paddling. If you have a canoe or kayak, check out our list below of 21 state parks that have canoe/kayak access. If you don’t have your own boat, there’s always our trusty list of 35 Places Where You Can Rent a Canoe or Kayak in the state. If you’re up for a guided trip — from a quiet journey through a black water swamp to a rollicking romp down Class II, III and IV water, check out this list of outfitters statewide.

Or maybe you’re just looking for an excuse to go wading. Saturday, get your feet wet in the cool waters of the New River during and Aquatic Sampling program at 1 p.m. (336.982.2587 for details on this trip, which meets at the Wagoner Access Area), while Sunday at 2 p.m. at Stone Mountain State Park there’s Aquatic Wild, a chance to poke about the East Prong of the Roaring River for wet wildlife.

Whichever wet option you chose, don’t forget the sunscreen, a hat, protective clothing, bug spray, perhaps a snack or two. And fun, don’t forget to have fun.


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State Parks where you can float your boat


Eno River State Park – Canoe access, river fishing.

Falls Lake State Recreation Area read more

90-Second Escape: Paddling Umstead’s Big Lake

Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast, especially come summer. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy.
To help ease this trying transition from out-in-the-Sun-day to Mon-I-wish-I-were-back-in-the-sun-day, we’re running a new feature every Monday, at least during the summer, called 90-Second Escape. Essentially, it’s a 90-second mini-movie of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s out in the sun. Because there’s a good chance you might want to make such an escape yourself, we’ll include a resource list with each escape showing where and how to make it happen.

Today’s 90-Second Escape: Paddling Umstead State Park’s Big Lake.

As escapes go, this is about the cheapest 60 minutes you’ll find: At Umstead State Park’ Big Lake, $5 buys you an hour’s escape on the park’s somewhat whimsically named Big Lake. Whimsical because, at 55 acres, Big Lake is hardly that (nearby Lake Crabtree, for instance, is 520 acres, while Falls Lake  is 12,410 acres and Jordan Lake is 13,900 acres). But it does offer surprisingly big escape, especially considering it’s in one of North Carolina’s most popular state parks and borders busy Raleigh Durham International Airport.

The boat house is only open weekends and only from the first weekend of April through the second weekend of October. Rental hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

And if you can’t make it to Umstead, chances are you can get a similar deal on an escape at at state park near you: Eight parks in the North Carolina system rent boats: Cliffs of the Neuse, Dismal Swamp, Hammocks Beach, Hanging Rock, Jones Lake, Lake James, Lake Norman and Morrow Mountain, while Hammocks Beach rents through an outside organization.

In the meantime, enjoy this week’s 90-Second Escape.

Weekend plans? Three days for adventure

Memorial Day weekend: Three days to get out and explore, three options for doing just that.


Despite its name, George Washington once referred to the Dismal Swamp as a “glorious paradise.” If you’ve only driven past, the rationale behind President Washington’s praise may escape you. But plunge into its lush depths on a kayak and the father of our country’s reasoning will be perfectly clear.

You’ll have a chance to do just that Saturday at 10 a.m. on a ranger-led kayak trip of the Dismal Swamp Canal. The trip samples a small portion of this massive quagmire, which is 37 miles long and reaches a width of 12 miles, in the Dismal Swamp State Park. But at two hours, it’s adequate time to get a feel for this wild area in northeastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia.

The trip is free, and kayak, PFDs and paddles are provided, but you need to reserve a spot in advance, by calling 252.771.6593. It’s from 10 a.m. to around noon. For more information on the park, go here.


I lived in Dallas for five long years, and in the month of August I found relief from the heat only once: on a nighttime sailboat trip across Lake Ray Hubbard. It may have still been 104 degrees at 9 p.m., but on the lake it felt like a brisk 85. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

My sail down memory lane was stirred by our current heat wave, our first of the season, and word that the Lake Townsend Yacht Club is hosting a sail-along Saturday at its namesake lake north of Greensboro.  Take a ride, watch expert sailors put a boat through its paces — and refreshments!

It’s free and goes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. out of the Lake Townsend Marina. Go here for more information on the event, here for more info on the Lake Townsend Yacht Club.


If you live for the outdoors you should be living in Asheville this Memorial Day weekend, specifically at Carrier Park, home base for the three-day Mountain Sports Festival. Among the activities scheduled: Friday’s Rock2Rock 10K Trail Run at Camp Rockmont, Saturday morning 100-mile Wheel Ride for Food, the three-day Disc Golf Challenge, second-annual French Broad Challenge Triathlon, cyclocross, a longboarding/skateboarding competition and clinics on everything from chi running to fly fishing to ultimate Frisbee.

Live music, food, vendors and more — too much more to mention here so I’ll turn you over to the Mountain Sports Festival Web site for more info.

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Those are GGNC’s thoughts for an active weekend. Find out other ways you can get out this weekend by browsing our super calendar, a collection of events calendars from throughout the state, 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 costal 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 read more