This weekend: A pre-winter special

Looking Glass Rock, the objective of Sunday's Carolina Mountain Club hike.

It’s not officially winter according to the calendar, but the leaves are gone, the sky crystal and the air crisp (although slightly warmer than normal). The perfect time to enjoy the natural world.


December marks the beginning — in our book, at least — of the winter season, especially at the coast. The air is brisk, the sky clear, the bugs at bay, all of which makes for great exploring. Hence our recommendation for Saturday’s Biological Wonderland hike at Carolina Beach State Park. A ranger takes you on a hike through the diverse habitats at Carolina Beach and explains what makes them good for the critters who live there.

Since the program only lasts an hour or so, you might have a little extra time on your hands. If that proves true, head down the coast to the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and check out the 1.1-mile Basin Trail, which heads through a coastal marsh to and past the bunker where the Fort Fisher Hermit once lived.

Logistics: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2 p.m. Meet at the park’s Flytrap Trail Parking Area. More info: 910.458.8206. More info on the park, here.

Weekend forecast: High of 65, mostly sunny.

Ranger Steve McMurray, back of the boat, on a trip last year.


Another great thing to do as winter descends: bird watch. In large part that’s because the denuded (pardon our French) canopy makes for easier viewing. Saturday, join ranger Steve McMurray at the Eagle Observation Deck on Jordan Lake for some scoping of bald eagles, waterfowl and songbirds in a particularly popular spot for avian activities. Spotting scope provided, by it wouldn’t hurt to bring your own binos if you have ‘em.

Logistics: Saturday, Dec. 1, 10:30 a.m., Eagle Observation Deck off Martha’s Chapel Road (about a quarter mile east of Farrington Road). Contact Ranger Steve at or 919.356.0856, ext. 219 for more info.

Saturday forecast: High of 64, mostly sunny.

Carolina Beach State Park


Another great thing winter was made for: hiking in the mountains. Join the Carolina Mountain Club Sunday for a 5.8-mile hike to the top of Looking Glass Rock in the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard. You’ve likely seen Looking Glass from afar, from any number of locations. Now see what it looks like from atop the dome.

Logistics: Carpool gathers at 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, from the Bi-Lo in nearby Pisgah Forest for the drive to the trailhead. Hike leader Jane Laping, 828.277.7342, for specifics.

Saturday forecast: High of 64, overcast.

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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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