This weekend: Paddle up!

Dragon boating Saturday on Lake Lure (see "Mountains").

Paddle a swamp, paddle someone else’s boat, paddle a dragon.


There’s great cache in being able to say you paddled the Great Dismal Swamp. After all, people have gone into the massive wetland in the northeast corner of the state (and southeast Virginia) and never come out. On Saturday’s Kayaking the Canal paddle at Dismal Swamp State Park you can earn both Dismal bragging rights and, since it’s ranger-led and on a canal, be assured that you will emerge unscathed (save, perhaps, a mosquito bite or two if you don’t later up beforehand).

Logistics: Saturday, June 15, 10 a.m. All equipment provided and its free, but space is limited and thus, preregistration is required. More info and to preregister: 252.771.6593.

Saturday forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 79.


Who doesn’t love to bogart a ride. In college, I became accomplished at worming my way into someone’s backseat to go skiing on weekends. A long-time devotee of the econobox, I’ve also been known to flatter my way into test-driving a sports car or two. More recently, I scout out the demo days and spend my time piloting pricey, state-of-the art crafts unlikely to find their way into my pedestrian recreational arsenal.

Take a boat for a spin before you buy.

Which is why this Thursday afternoon you’ll find me at Lake Crabtree County Park in Morrisville at the monthly Great Outdoor Provision Co. Boat Demo Day. GOPC brings out some of its more popular boats (if you’re interested in a specific boat, call 919.933.6148 beforehand and see if they’ll bring it out) and lets you paddle away (but not too far away; the lake is only 520 acres). Flatwater and whitewater kayaks, canoes, fishing kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, too.

Logistics: Thursday, June 13, 4-7 p.m., Lake Crabtree County Park, Morrisville. More info by calling 919.933.6148.

Thursday forecast: Partly to mostly sunny, high of 97! (Another reason to be on the water.)

An enlightening Dismal paddle (see "Coast").


Here’s something you don’t get to do everyday: race a dragon boat. Dragon boat? you ask. Yep, a 30-foot boat (the smaller version of dragon boat) that holds 10 paddlers. Drums pound out the stroke cadence, you provide the man/woman power. Sounds grueling, sounds fun. And scenic, since it takes place on Lake Lure at the mouth of the Hickory Nut Gorge.

Even if there’s not time to put together your own dragon-headed, scale-sided boat (there’s a cap of 30 teams), you can join the other 2,000 spectators along the shore to take in this unusual spectacle that is, the Lure of the Dragons.

Logistics: Saturday, June 15. $20 per boat. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 81, partly cloudy.

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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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