This weekend: commune with nature

Lake Mattamuskeet (photo by Mike Dunn)

Explore the largest overwintering population of waterfowl along the East Coast at Lake Mattamuskeet, learn who your winter hiking companions are, or hike the Celo community. It’s all possible this weekend in North Carolina.


This one is well worth the price considering its a waning chance to sit in on a nature program led by one of the state’s premier naturalists. Friday and Saturday, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences sponsors “Lake Mattamuskeet Adventure,” a chance to explore Lake Mattamuskeet and the neighboring Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, which together represent one of the largest overwintering sites for waterfowl on the East Coast. Spend day both days — 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. — learning to identify the various waterfowl, raptors and other birds that spend the season here.

The event is lead by three museum educators, Martha Fisk, Jerry Reynolds and Mike Dunn. Dunn is a longtime educator who has led folks on trips from A to Y (Acadia to Yellowstone) and who will be retiring soon. His knowledge is trumped only by his humor, a valuable resource when you’re standing in the cold for hours waiting for a merganser to take flight. He’s also the only naturalist I know who can guarantee a bear sighting — and deliver. (On this trip, in fact.)

Logistics: Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7-8, from 10 a.m.-11 p.m., $95 ($85 for Friends of the Museum).  919.733.7450, x-555 to register. More info here.

Weekend forecast: Highs in the 60s, 30 percent chance of rain both days.


If you plan to do a lot of hiking over the winter wouldn’t it be nice to know a little more about the forest you’ll be hiking in? Like the species of the trees you’ll be hiking amid. Identifying a tree in summer is relatively easy: just check out the leaves. Come leafless winter you need more sophisticated tracking skills, such as those that can be developed at Saturday’s Winter Tree Identification hike at Lake Crabtree County Park in Morrisville. “Learn how to identify several common species through the use of twigs, buds, bark, and growth habit,” promises the program description. “Hand lenses and field guides will be provided.”

Logistics: Saturday, Dec. 8, 10 a.m.-Noon. Free. More info here.

Saturday forecast: 68 and partly cloudy.

Celo Knob, atop the Black Mountain crest, high above the Celo community


This sounds like a different kind of mountain hike: Saturday, the N.C. High Peaks Trail Association will lead a 6-mile hike around the Celo community at the foot of the Black Mountains. “We’ll be hiking on a network of wide, well maintained trails, with modest elevation gain,” says the non-profit, which is devoted to preserving and protecting the North Carolina high country’s highest country.

Logistics: Saturday, Dec. 8, meet at the Burnsville Town Square at 8:30 to carpool. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 61, partly cloudy.

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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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