Fall in North Carolina: So much to do, so little time

North Carolina’s brilliant fall weather means all kinds of events and programs will be competing for your attention. This weekend, for instance, you can paddle a swamp, run 5 miles on a greenway that doesn’t yet exist or take a really, really (really) long ride in the mountains.

Paddle the pond.


I’m a sucker for paddling at Merchants Millpond State Park, so if I’ve recommended this kayaking program before, forgive me. It’s just that one activity you should do before time expires is paddle this marriage of coastal pond and southern swamp forest, where escape is just a draw stroke away. In fact, based on a conversation with one of my Ultimate Hikers on a recent outing, escape and a call to 911 may be just a draw stroke away, because it’s pretty easy to get turned around in a swamp and have no idea where you are.

That’s why a ranger-led trip is an especially good idea in a place such as Merchants Millpond. Saturday’s expedition will begin at 2 p.m. at the visitors center. Boat, paddle, PFD are provided, you just need to, according to the park, “Bring bug spray, something to drink, and a set of extra clothing just in case.” (That “just in case” suggests there’s still a good bit of adventure to be had on this trip.)

Free, but preregistration is required, by calling 252.357.1191. More on the park, including how to get there, here.

Artwork on Phase I of the Downtown Greenway.


Did you know there’s a greenway loop of downtown Greenway in the making? Possibly not, which is part of the reason behind Saturday’s Run 4 the Greenway, intended to raise awareness (and a little scratch) for the Downtown Greenway. This 8K (5 miles American) will roughly trace the route of the greenway, construction for which has commenced. The race begins at 5:45 p.m. (there’s a 1-mile fun run at 5:15 p.m.), followed by a downtown festival at Center City Park. $25 for individual runners, $15 for the 1-miler (no charge for the 12 and under set).

For more on the race, go here. For more on the Downtown Greenway, here.

A flatter stretch of the Villainous Viper.


Up for a bike ride this weekend? A long (100 miles) ride with more than 10,000 feet of climbing?

Not everyone’s idea of a leisurely weekend ride, perhaps, but if you’ve been riding all summer and are up for a challenge, the WNC Villainous Viper would seem to qualify. The race begins at the YMCA in downtown Asheville, heads out to the Blue Ridge Parkway and does some serious up-and-down while exploring Buncombe County. Haven’t been riding that much? There’s also a metric century (62.1 miles American) option.

$45 if you register at the ride (proceeds benefit Child Abuse Prevention Services), $40 if you register online by end-of-business Friday. Ride begins at 7:15 a.m. (metric at 7:30) with a police escort out of town (that’s a good thing, for those of you unfamiliar with group rides).

More info 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.

2 thoughts on “Fall in North Carolina: So much to do, so little time”

  1. I feel like in the Piedmont section, the second “Greenway” is meant to be “Greensboro.” Otherwise there’s no indication (other than “Piedmont”) of where this greenway is.

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