Celebrate the weekend at an N.C. State Park

In honor of Celebrate North Carolina State Parks weekend, which is this weekend, we cull our recommendations from this weekend’s State Park offerings.


1. Ever see “Little Shop of Horrors” (either the 1960 Roger Korman original or the 1986 Frank Oz remake)? A man-eating plant! How outlandish, you likely thought.

Not really, it turns out.

OK, so sundews, bladderworts, butterworts, pitcher plants, and the Venus fly trap may not cause you much of a threat. But be glad you aren’t a fly, because these carnivorous plants would gobble up your pesky six-leggedness in a heartbeat. You can find out more about these curious plants, which tend to reside within a 60-mile radius of Wilmington, on the ranger-led Carnivorous Plant Hike Saturday at Carolina Beach State Park. Starts at 10, lasts an hour or so. Meets at the Nature Trail parking lot.

More info: Call 910.458.8206 or go here.

Lake Waccamaw (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)

2. I won’t tell you what happened the last time I paddled a Carolina Bay, but the odds of winds that strong kicking up this time a year are small. Tiny, even. Though I do see that to participate in Saturday’s Evening Paddle/Canoe Trip at Lake Waccamaw State Park you, “Must be able to swim.” Still, you’ll be wearing a pfd. Anyway, the best way to enjoy Down East this time of year is on the water, in this case from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in a canoe. No charge, but pre-registration is required, by calling 910.646.4748.

For more info on the park, go here.


New River (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks).

1. Paddling a flat water coastal lake, you do all the work. On a mountain river, the river does the heavy lifting. Once reason to sign up for Sunday’s ranger-led canoe trip down the New River. (The other reason being the stellar scenery, of course.) This 12:30 p.m. trip at New River State Park is free (save for a “minimal fee for shuttling,” but limited to 8 paddlers, so sign up now, by calling 336.982.2587.

More about the park located near Jefferson here.

Mount Mitchell

2. Or maybe you just want to beat this blasted heat! No place better than atop the East Coast, at Mount Mitchell State Park. Several programs are on tap this weekend, the one likely to get you closest to Mitchell’s 6,684-foot summit: Small Wonders on a Mighty Mountain. A naturalist ranger leads a one-hour hike along the Balsam Nature Trail looking for what survives in this often-harsh environment. Commences at 11 a.m.

More info by calling 828.675.4611 or visiting here.


1. A personal favorite when it comes to state parks programs, Geology Hike at Occoneechee Mountain (pictured above; photo courtesy North Carolina State Parks). Occoneechee, near Hillsborough, tops 800 feet and is the highest point in the Triangle region. As the entry for this program proclaims, “Come to the mountain and see the geologic wonders and abandoned pyrophyllite quarry.” Sounds Barnumesque, but it is is pretty cool. Saturday at 10 a.m., only 15 hikers allowed, so pre-register before it’s booked, by calling 919.383.1686.

More on Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area here.

2. Another fave: The night hike. Walk on the wild side at night at Lumber River State Park. Look and listen for nocturnal critters by land, by sea by air. (The listening part is especially cool: What the heck was that!? Bring a flashlight (which you’ll probably use sparingly), starts at 8.

More info by calling 910-628-4564 or visiting here.


Interested in what else is going on statewide? We’ve collected some calendars from around the state for your consideration.


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
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.



Charlotte Observer events calendar
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including Nature, Recreation, Recreation & Wellness, Running

Charlotte Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.


Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

Piedmont Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.


Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including: Birding, Boating, Cycling, Nature, Rec & Wellness, Recreation, Running, Swimming, Tennis, Yoga.

Carolina Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.


Office of Environmental Education
One calendar for the numerous Environmental Education Centers statewide.

North Carolina State Parks
Lets you search for programs at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas by location, by month, by topic. To reach the calendar from the home page, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks.”

National Forests in North Carolina
From the home page, click on Carolina Connections for news updates on the state’s four national forests as well as hints on recreational opportunities and a detailed rundown of recreation areas and the amenities at each.

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