A weekend afoot

Go short, go long, go fast: Those are among your options this weekend in North Carolina.


Whenever I run across someone who’s just been to Goose Creek State Park for the first time, their first comment is, “Wow! Why didn’t I know about this place?” Maybe it’s because it’s off the beaten path (it’s between Washington and Bath off a lesser traveled stretch of U.S. 264). Maybe it’s because it doesn’t have a famous landmark at it’s core (the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Bear Island at Hammocks Beach State Park). Maybe because it doesn’t have easily accessed recreational opportunities, such as the rental canoes at Merchants Millpond State Park.

What Goose Creek does have, thanks in large part to well-located boardwalk, is hiking through a classic coastal swamp, complete with Spanish moss-draped oaks, black gum, tupelo, red maple, bald cypress, wax myrtle — so much plant life, in fact, that you could get overwhelmed. Unless you were in the company of seasoned naturalists who can help you figure out who’s who among swamp denizens. Saturday, from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m., you’ll have that opportunity on a Sierra Club-led hike through Goose Creek. Participants are advised to bring lunch, water and “good walking shoes” (meaning sensible, not fashionable). Call Ernie Marshall at 252.916.5462 for more information and to sign-up.


No doubt you look in this space every Thursday and think, “How come I can never find any good 20-mile hikes?” Think no more, for on Saturday there will be a 20-miler at Umstead State Park. The hike is led by Rod Broadbelt, known to local hiking insiders as the man who introduced marathon take-no-prisoners hikes to the Triangle. When Broadbelt moved here in the 1990s from the Philadelphia area, he scouted around for a good hiking club that led stout hikes. No hiking clubs, no stout hikes — so he started one of his own. Once a month, he leads a hike of no less than 8-10 miles at Umstead State Park (with the occasional road trip to Raven Rock State Park).

Saturday's hike will start here, on the Company Mill Trail.

Saturday’s 20-miler is all on blazed trail (not always the case with off-road Rod) and shorter options of 4.5, 6, 9, 11, 13, and 17 miles are offered (basically, Rod tells you when to turn around and how to get back). Hike starts at 8 a.m. from the far left corner of the Umstead parking lot off Harrison Avenue at I-40. Expect to return by 4:15 p.m. Questions? Call Rod at 919.363.6611 no later than 7 p.m., or email him at rbroadbelt@nc.rr.com.


After a hike at the coast and one in the Piedmont, let’s pick up the pace with a run in the mountains. That would be the Valentine Run 5K and Youth Fun Run in Black Mountain, hosted by the local parks & rec. The race is Saturday at 2 p.m. ($30). Afterward, stick around and explore Black Mountain, a fun and occasionally funky mountain town.

Details here.

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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.

Todd’s Calendar



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.

4 thoughts on “A weekend afoot”

      1. Way to go Joe! Since you “disappeared” from me a few times, I am not sure whether you did all 20 miles. Do you know your mileage? I hope it was 20 but nevertheless (one of my favorite words), it was great to have you with us. I talk about you often with the hikers and lo and behold there you were. Can’t believe I did not see you until well into the hike.

        I follow your blogs all the time. You are the most active outside person I ever knew and the diversity of your activities must exceed all mankind. I am so glad you were with us yesterday—it was like “icing on the cake.” Keep up your good works.

      2. My legs were telling me I did at least 20 miles (120?), but I don’t use a pedometer (too unreliable) and I haven’t had a chance to go back and tally the total from the park map.I’m guessing I did a little under 20 since we got to the Visitors Center for lunch about 20 minutes before you did. As someone at the end said, “You don’t have to say you did a 20-mile hike; just say you went on a 20-mile hike.” 18, 19, 20 or whatever, though, it was a great hike! Thanks for your years of leading it, Rod.

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