This weekend: Celebrate the summerlike weather with a ride, a hike, a river festival

It’s what you’ve been waiting for since September: the first weekend of the year that will feel like summer. Celebrate with a 100-mile bike ride in the coastal plain, a hike under a full moon, or celebrating one of the mountains’ most popular and playful rivers, the French Broad.


If you’re a cyclist looking to do your first century ride, you have a big ally in the coastal plain: the closest things to a hill? Bridge overpasses. Couple your urge to log triple-digit miles with a good cause —  Ride to a Wish, which raises money to help kids battling serious illness a chance to fulfill a dream — and you’ve got Saturday’s Tour de Wish out of Columbia (on US 64 east of Manteo).  The Tour actually kicks off Friday evening with a Zombie Hash (appropriate dress required) pasta dinner at 7, followed by Saturday’s 8 a.m. ride, which winds through scenic (and flat) Tyrrell County. Stick around afterward for live music. 50- and 33-mile options as well.

Logistics: $20 registration fee and you must raise a minimum of $50, a nominal amount as these events go. (That’s a minimum: last year’s event raised more than $30,000 and granted six wishes.). More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 90, 40 percent chance of rain.


It’s a full moon Saturday, and nighttime events abound, from paddles to hikes, including one aimed at kids at the Annie Louise Wilkerson MD Nature Preserve Park in Raleigh. “Many animals are active right around sunset or shortly after. Take a walk with a park naturalist to explore the woods and fields at this special time. Look for deer, foxes, coyotes, owls, moths and lightning bugs.” Nothing like a pair of beady eyes glaring at you from the forest’s inky depths.

Logistics: From 8-9:30 p.m., $2 person, all small persons must be in the company of an adult. More info on the preserve here.  Or call 919.996.6764.

Saturday forecast: Daytime high of 86, 50 percent chance of rain.


This weekend, starting Friday, it’s the 15th Annual French Broad River Festival in Hot Springs, a classic combination of live music on two stages with outdoor activities, including the 8th Annual French Broad River Festival Mountain Bike Race on Saturday at 9 a.m. (route and other information provided at that time) and a 9-mile raft race, from Barnard down the French Broad to Hot Springs (including one Class IV rapid), also beginning at 9 a.m. You can also get tips on whitewater paddling from U.S. Freestyle Rodeo Team member Eli Helbert in a Paddle with the Pros clinic, and there are various outdoor activities for the kids.

Logistics: The Festival begins Friday afternoon. Fee structure varies: Festival ticket-holders participate free in all events, individual fees for the races. More information here.

Weekend forecast: Highs in the upper 70s, 40 percent chance of rain Sunday.

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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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