Weekend plans? Hike to learn, run for fun

Cool weather returns to North Carolina this weekend, making for good hiking at the coast and the mountains, with frightfully fun running in between.


Mid- to late fall, in my humble opinion the best time to explore the coast. Temperatures have dropped enough that bugs — and snakes! — are less of a problem, yet they haven’t dropped enough to seriously affect the greenery. Lots to see, fewer things to distract you from seeing them. That’s why our pick for the coast this weekend is the Biological Wonderland hike at Carolina Beach State Park. Carolina Beach has a diverse plant community, from its pine savannas to its carnivorous plants. Let an in-the-know park ranger fill you in on this Saturday morning hike that leaves from the nature trail parking lot at 10 a.m.

More info? Go here, or call 910.458.8206


Halloween is the perfect time to run. “Run?” you say, as if we really meant to say “eat loads of candy.” Yes, run, because there are so dang many fun Halloween runs. Halloween runs are great for teasing your latent running genes because generally the runs aren’t so much about running (though you do), but about ghoulish fun. And while you are having that ghoulish fun — checking out the great costumes, occasionally getting candy tossed at you — you are, in fact, running. The added treat of a Halloween run? It’s an especially good way to trick the kids into running. Here are two options:

Raleigh: Monster Dash, Sunday, races begin at 2 p.m., registration at 12:30 p.m. There’s a 1-mile run at 2 p.m., 5K at 2:30, and a 100-yard dash intended for the little folks. Prizes for best costume, and more. Details here.

Charlotte: The Freaky 5K, benefiting the Autism Society of Mecklenburg County,  begins at the bewitching hour of 6 p.m. Saturday evening from the Neighborhood Theater. Hang around and you can check out the finals of the Pimp My Pumpkin contest. An all-round evening of sweaty good fun. More info on the race here.


Did you know that it’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail Month? Have you even been on a section of the MST? And don’t make us ask if you know what the MST is.

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is, of course, the 1,000-mile trail-in-progress that will one day run from Clingman’s Dome on the North Carolina/Tennessee border to Jockey’s Ridge at the coast. About half of the trail is completed, including a 6.6-mile stretch along the Blue Ridge Parkway west of Mt. Pisgah that is the focus of a hike Sunday by the Carolina Mountain Club. Hike leader Tom Sanders tells fellow hiking guide chum Karen Chavez, also the outdoors editor for the Asheville Citizen-Times, “This section is downhill for about 4 ½ miles. It’s not steep, but it’s moderately pleasant. The last 1 ½ miles have two or three little hills.”

The hike is at 1:30 p.m. Sunday: You can either meet the group at the Pisgah Inn trailhead, MP 408 on the BRO, or carpool from Asheville, from the Westgate Shopping Center at 12:30.

To RSVP or for more information, contact Sanders at tomary.avl@gmail.com.

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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
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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