This weekend: Penetrate a preserve, paddle & picnic on a lake, hike the AT

This weekend’s offerings are proof that adventure in North Carolina knows no seasons.


Every once in a while, the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge opens its roads allowing the public in to better explore this 8,219-acre refuge in Currituck County. To explore its low-lying freshwater and brackish marshes, it’s upland and lowland eastern pine hardwood forests. And this time of year, to be treated to a variety of migrating waterfowl (including snow geese and Canada geese) in addition to year-round residents such as the bald eagle and osprey.

That once-in-a-while is this weekend at Mackay Island, when the roads will be open from 7 a.m. to sunset. Learn more about the preserve here.

Eggs Benedict, anyone?


Saturday, I spent three hours in my kayak on Jordan Lake. The only thing that could make this better, I thought, would be if someone  magically appeared and served breakfast. OK, I didn’t really think that, at least until I saw the post for this Saturday’s Kayak Breakfast on Belews Lake, sponsored by the Piedmont Environmental Center in High Point. Here’s the deal: Shove off at 7:30 a.m., pull over to the shore at some point for breakfast, then paddle some more, until noon. All the while learning about the natural world engulfing Lake Belews.

$50, $40 if you’re a member of the Piedmont Environmental Center. Details here.


Three years ago, while I was reporting “Backpacking North Carolina,” I got to explore some incredible wild areas in the state. Today, I

View south from atop Standing Indian Mountain.

can thumb through the book and remember a surprising amount about all 43 trips. Some, though, stand out more than others. One of those is the Standing Indian area southwest of Franklin, where the Appalachian Trail traces an oxbow ridgeline; coupled with the handful of trails that climb out of the Standing Indian Campground you have a number of loop options, unusual on the AT, which generally trends in a straight line southwest to northeast from Springer Mountain, Ga., to Katahdin, Maine. One of those loops is the objective of a group hike by the Nantahala Hiking Club this Saturday.

From the campground, the group will hike up the Kimsey Creek Trail to Deep Gap, where it Ts into the AT. From there, they’ll hike north to 5,498-foot Standing Indian Mountain, then head back to the trailhead on the Lower Ridge Trail. Twelve miles of great hiking, that you can be a part of by reserving a spot with hike leader Don Neil, at 828.586.5723.

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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.

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