This weekend: 0 to 6,684

Exploring at Hammocks Beach.

We start at the coast (sea level) with a guided paddle trip at Hammocks Beach State Park and wind up in the high country — the highest country, in fact — with a program atop the highest point on the East Coast, 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell.


One of our favorite paddles is the marshland around Hammocks Beach State Park near Swansboro. It’s a vast, yet somewhat protected sea of sea and cordgrass, a marshy maze that frequently ends with turns down dead-end channels. Which is part of what makes paddling here fun.

For those of you who like a little less mystery in your paddle trips, the park is sponsoring a ranger-lead guided kayak trip on Friday. All equipment is provided.

Logistics: Friday, Aug. 9, 8:30 a.m. Hammocks Beach State Park. Free, but pre-registration is required by contacting the park office at 910.326.4881.

Friday forecast: High of 86, 10 percent chance of rain.


One of the premier cycling events in the state is BikeFest: the 18th Annual Rural Heritage Tour. Sponsored by the Carolina Tarwheels bike club, BikeFest is a celebration of the “historic farmsteads and rustic churches … the pastoral heritage of the Piedmont … along quiet country roads.” How much of a celebration you wish to make it is up to you: the ride has supported routes of 35, 62 and 100 miles.

Logistics: Saturday, Aug. 10, 7 a.m., Hillsborough. $30/$40. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 86, 40 percent chance of rain.

The view north from Mount Mitchell along the Black Mountain Crest.


The free programs offered at North Carolina State Parks are well-done and well worth your time. But were you to close your eyes for a moment and listen, you might not know which park was being discussed. The ecology of Pilot Mountain, for instance, isn’t all that different from Hanging Rock. Not the case with programs at Mount Mitchell State Park, which sits atop the East Coast in a land unlike any other in the state parks system. That’s why Saturday’s “Wildlife, Weather and Trees of Mount Mitchell” is worth a visit. Odds are good you’ll learn something you’ll learn of something you didn’t thing happened in North Carolina.

And work in a hike with the program. Our favorite at Mitchell is the Deep Gap Trail, which heads north along the crest of the Black Mountains. The trail is 4.5 strenuous miles, topping a number of 6,000-foot peaks. A real treat on a clear summer’s day.

Logistics: Saturday, Aug. 10, 11 a.m., Mount Mitchell State Park. More info by calling 828.675.4611.

Saturday forecast: High of 76, 40 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.


Great Outdoor Provision Co.
Calendar includes three weekly events for each of its seven markets: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Search by market.

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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