Tag Archives: Elk Knob State Park

GetOut! Your Weekend Nudge — and a call to Ultimate action

We begin our thoughts on weekend adventure with an adventure three weeks out that you can start training for this weekend.

Raleigh/Umstead CureSearch Hike, Saturday, June 1, Umstead State Park, Raleigh. I started leading hikes in 2011 after being contacted by an endeavor called the Ultimate Hike, a new fundraiser benefitting a group out to end childhood cancer. The deal was this: lead at least six training hikes in preparation for a 28.3-mile hike (in one day) on the Foothills Trail straddling the North Carolina/South Carolina line. I’d been telling people where to hike through books and newspaper columns for 15 years, why not actually take them, I thought. So I did.  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: Hop like a bunny — there’s lots going on

The view north from Elk Knob

Hey, like the headline says: find your adventure (below) and hop to it.

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Fess up: how many plastic bags of shells to you have from beach foraging sessions past? Lots, no doubt.

Did you know there are things you can do with those shells? Crafty things, things you might not have thought possible that you could use to spruce up your home or office? Better still, for those long week beach vacations, things that could keep the kids busy for an afternoon or two.

Learn “about some of the unique beach findings and what crafty ways can be applied with them” on a free clinic at Hammocks Beach State Park Sunday afternoon. Come before the 2 p.m. start, gather some fresh stuff, then discover how to craft a creation with it.

You will get a chance to build your own craft to take home.

Registration is required by contacting the park office: 910-326-4881.

Logistics: Coastal Craft Series, Sunday, April 16, 2 p.m., Hammocks Beach State Park, Swansboro.  Free, but registration is required, by calling 910.326.4881. More info here.

Sunday forecast: High of 80, sunny.

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Looking ahead: Nature Designs Art Festival and Earth Day Celebration, April 22, Raven Rock State Park, Lillington.

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Are you a citizen scientist? Then use your skills for the forces of good over the next several days by representing the Triangle in the nationwide City Nature Challenge.

Says the sponsoring N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, “This competition pits several American cities against each other to see who can document the most biodiversity on the iNaturalist app over a 5-day period. We’re going up against cities that are a lot bigger than we are (Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and others), but North Carolina’s amazing biodiversity and the great urban wildlife we see every day can help us win!”

It won’t be easy. “We likely need over 15,000 submissions to have a shot of taking home the gold, so we need YOUR help snapping photos of Triangle Area plants, animals, or fungi, April 14-18, and submitting them to iNaturalist by April 30. We’ve got prizes for the top three local contributors as a thank you, too!”

Intrigued? See Logistics, below, for how you can participate.

Logistics: City Nature Challenge, April 14-18, Triangle area. For more info, visit here or call 919.707.9800.

Weekend forecast: Highs around 80 under sunny skies.

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Looking ahead: Walk, Run Bike for Umstead, Saturday, April 22, Umstead Coalition fundraiser for Umstead State Park in Raleigh. More info here.

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We have a thing for Elk Knob State Park, and that thing is the view from atop Elk Knob. From its 5,520-foot summit you can see a wide swath of the northern North Carolina mountains and appreciate the unusual northern hardwood forest that dominates the region. It’s an especially great place for a guided hike, which is the plan Saturday, when a park ranger leads a 1-mile hike and discusses the park’s natural history along the way.

Logistics: Nature Hike, Saturday, 2 p.m., April 15, Elk Knob State Park, Todd. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 70 with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

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Looking ahead: Gateway to the Smokies Half Marathon, May 6, Waynesville. 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
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: Short hikes, long views

Basin Trail (photo courtesy Fort Fisher State Recreation Area)
Basin Trail (photo courtesy Fort Fisher State Recreation Area)

You don’t always have to hike for half the day to score a great view. Options at the coast and in the mountains this week underscore that point — and offer great incentive for beginning hikers! Speaking of great views, you’ll find them Saturday when the sun sets at three state parks.

Coast

Sunday morning, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area in Kure Beach will conduct its periodic Basin Trail Hike. We’ve promoted this hike before, and for good reason.

The hike isn’t long, about a mile and a half, and it isn’t particularly challenging — there’s maybe a foot of elevation gain. Yet the esthetic reward is vast, starting along the Atlantic Ocean then ducking behind a dune and exploring a coastal marsh where the views are sweeping. There’s a small encounter with a maritime forest and a very unique bit of human history: about midway the trail passes the World War II bunker that later became the home of the Fort Fisher Hermit.

In short, it’s the perfect introductory hike for the person leery, but intrigued, by the notion of hiking. And you can follow it up with a day at the beach

Logistics: Sunday, July 19, 8:30 a.m., Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, 1000 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach. More info: 910.458.5798 or go here.

Sunday forecast: High of 93, chance of thunderstorms.

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Looking ahead: We’re back to Fort Fisher, where on Friday, July 24, a ranger will help you make sense of the shells you hike miles to score, with Beachcombing 101. 9 a.m., 910.458.5798, or go here for more information.

Piedmont

Pumped about Pluto? Who isn’t, with NASA’s New Horizons close encounter of the dwarf planet this week and the new information we’re learning about the little guy — like the fact he’s not as little as we previously thought. (Might planet reinstatement be in the offing?)

What better time to gaze into the heavens — which apparently is what our North Carolina State Parks are thinking: this weekend, stargazing programs are planned at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, Lake James State Park and Mayo River State Park. Come early and explore the great recreational attributes of these three facilities.

Logistics: The events are all on Saturday evening; go here for specifics for each viewing session.

Saturday evening forecast: Highs around 80, chance of thunderstorms into the evening.

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Looking ahead: Lost your way? Find it at the Intro to Orienteering clinic at Umstead State Park on Wednesday, July 22 at 2 p.m. More info by calling 919.571.4170.

Mountains

We love opportunities where it’s possible to learn a little something, then explore on our own.

Sunday, a ranger at Elk Knob State Park leads the mile-long Woodland Walk on the Beech Tree Trail, where it’s promised you’ll “see the forest in various new ways.” Afterward, plan to hike to the top of Elk Knob on the 1.9-mile Summit Trail, which switchbacks its way through a northern hardwood forest of sugar maple, yellow birch, American beech and yellow buckeye to the 5,520-foot summit. There, you’ll be treated with great 360-degree views.

Logistics: Sunday, July 19, 2 p.m., Elk Knob State Park, Todd. More information by calling 828.297.7261 or visit the park website here.

Sunday forecast: High of 85, chance of thunderstorms.

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Looking ahead: This one usually sneaks up on us; not this year. It’s the Maggie Valley Moonlight Run & Fun Run on Aug. 22 from 8:30-11 p.m. at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. 8K road race and Kid’s Sunset Fun Run. $30 until July 31; $40 Aug. 1-race day.  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 read more

This weekend: Three cures for your cabin fever

Who wants to go first? (Photo courtesy wilmingtongivesback.org)
Who wants to go first? (Photo courtesy wilmingtongivesback.org)

We know, you’re about to go crazy from being held hostage by the cold and ice. As of today, your main hope for reclaiming at least some of your sanity is Saturday, when temperatures are expected to warm into the 40s and 50s, and the prospects for precipitation are low (as opposed to Sunday, when it looks like we’ll either be drenched with rain or graced with more snow, depending upon your elevation).

With the current forecast in mind, here are some possibilities for Saturday (though be sure to call ahead and check websites before heading out, since some venues remained closed as of noon Thursday).

Coast

Here’s something suited to the current weather that isn’t likely to get canceled: the 11th Annual Polar Plunge at Kure Beach. There’s also a 5K, live music, silent auctions, food and more, all benefiting Special Olympics New Hanover County. Plus, the water will likely seem not nearly as cold as it is.

Logistics: Saturday, Feb. 21, 11 a.m., Kure Beach Pavilion, Kure Beach. $20-$40. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Mostly cloudy, high of 55.

Piedmont

“February is for the Birds” really is the name of a program, not commentary on current meteorological events. It’s at Eno River State Park, at the Fews Ford Access, which reopened midweek, and is a great opportunity for a learning experience for your kids, who had precious few learning opportunities this week. Feed a bird, learn its name. Aw.

Logistics: Saturday, Feb. 21, 3:30 p.m., Piper Cox House, Fews Ford Access, Eno River State Park. Free, but call to register (space is limited) at 919.383.1686.

Saturday forecast: High of about 40 at 3:30, with a slight chance of rain.

Mountains

If this one isn’t canceled and you can get there, Saturday’s Winter Hike at Elk Knob State Park should be a memorable one. Currently, Elk Knob has about five inches of new snow on the ground, today’s high should hit 1, the overnight low, 8 below. Saturday, 1-3 inches of snow is expected. The road to the park is open, four-wheel drive is advised. So are “traction devices” for your feet.

The Summit Trail is largely protected by a tight northern hardwood forest, save for the exposed 5,502-foot Elk Knob summit. The trail is less than two miles long, so it’s not epic winter hiking, but a nice taste thereof.

Logistics: Saturday, Feb. 21, 1 p.m., Elk Knob State Park, Todd. More info: 828.297.7261

Saturday forecast: Temperature around 30 and snow, with accumulations up to 3 inches, at hike time.

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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.

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 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.

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