This weekend: Raft, gaze, run

Make a mini raft (then ride the real thing), beat the heat with a nighttime search for Saturn, race on mountain trails. That’s what tops our list of thrills this weekend in North Carolina.


All spring, my stepson and his buddies spent their weekends building a raft — a raft they planned to ride for 35 miles on the Cape Fear River. Having paddled the Cape Fear I was a tad skeptical, what with the seemingly non-raft-friendly Class I-II drops along the way. But these guys being bright and well versed in the engineering arts, I kept my thoughts to myself: They’ll be fine. And after their three-day trip this past weekend, they were.

Their expedition piqued my interest in rafts. That’s no doubt part of the reason this week’s recommendation for the coast is the Rafting Near/On the Lake program Saturday at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park in Seven Springs. First, you’ll make miniature rafts for competition in the Raingutter Regatta. Then, time permitting, you’ll set sail on the park’s pond on a raft made of recycled material. Sounds like a great way to spend part of a day.

Logistics: Saturday, June 9, 8 a.m., Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, Seven Springs. More info by dialing 919.778.6234.

Friday forecast: High of 88 with overcast skies and a 70 percent chance of rain.

Saturn. Photo courtesy NASA


The forecast for Saturday calls for our first 90+ weather of the season — with the wetness factor boosting the heat index to 95! And there’s a 60 percent chance of rain during the day. How does that translate to still having adventure fun? By having it at night. Say, at the Wonders of the Night Sky program at the Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center in Four Oaks (near Smithfield). Saturn will be the focus of the evening, a focus provided by amateur astronomers who will bring their telescopes and are only too glad to let you take an extended peek. A great spot to view the night sky since there’s far less light pollution this far from the urban, glowing Triangle.

Logistics: Saturday, June 8, 9 p.m. Free, no pre-registration. More info here.

Saturday night forecast: Low of 72, partly cloudy.

Photo courtesy North Carolina Outward Bound


We’ve got a fondness for trail races, especially those in the mountains. This week, that fondness brings us to Warren Wilson College for the latest installment of the RiverBound Race Series. Both the 5K and 15K runs will be on the Warren Wilson trails. This is the second of three RiverBound races in the mountains; three others take place in the Charlotte area.

Logistics: Saturday, June 8, 8 a.m., Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa. $30 in advance, $35 race day for the 5K, $45/$50 for the 15K. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 77, 50 percent chance of rain.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed 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.

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges
Rundown, by month, of regular activities at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges in North Carolina.

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