This weekend: Fall for the outdoors

Fall is a great time to be outdoors in North Carolina; this weekend there are several ways to enjoy the season: hike a swamp at the coast, run a marathon in a Piedmont forest, paddle a mountain river — at night.


A boardwalk through Merchants Millpond.

Lots of people go to Merchants Millpond State Park, almost all to paddle the cypress- and tupelo-peppered millpond. But the park, nestled in the swampy northeast corner of the state, also has hiking trail (it even has backcountry camping). Saturday, you can tag along with a ranger on a nature hike through the park, a good opportunity to learn about the swamplike environment. Bug spray recommended.

Logistics: Saturday, Oct. 19, 1 p.m. Free. More info: 252.357.1191.

Saturday forecast: Overcast, high of 72.


Running at Medoc Mountain

For much of the year, Medoc Mountain State Park exists in blissful anonymity. Even on a brilliant fall weekend you can hike the 10 miles of trail in this northern Piedmont paradise and hardly see a soul. That will change this weekend with the 6th Annual Medoc Mountain Trail Races. The races consist of a 10-miler and a marathon on trail that is gently rolling (though there is a pretty good short climb up 325-foot Medoc Mountain).

Logistics: Saturday, Oct. 19: the marathon begins at 8 a.m., the 10-miler at 8:30 a.m. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Overcast, high of 72.


Paddling the French Broad (in daylight). Photo courtesy Western North Carolina Alliance

We night hike regularly, ride the mountain bike at night during the cold weather/short daylight months, and have night paddled exactly once. We have the opportunity to double our experience on the latter Friday night when the Western North Carolina Alliance holds a full-moon paddle on the French Broad River near Asheville. The trip is led by French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson. (Incidentally, the WNCA informs us, Friday’s full moon is the third to last of the year, and is also known as the Full Hunter’s Moon and the Travel Moon. Thanks for tuning into GetGoingNC’s Know Your Moons segment.)

Logistics: Departs Friday , Oct. 18, at 6:15 p.m. from  Jean Webb Park, 30 Riverside Dr. in Asheville. Fee is $20 for WNCA members with their own boats and gear, $30 for members without gear, $45/$45 for non-WNCA members. To RSVP or for more information, make contact with WNCA education and outings coordinator Isabelle Rios at or 258-8737, ext. 201.

Friday evening forecast: Partly cloudy with an overnight low of 52 following a daytime high of 63.

* * *

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.

* * *

Like us on Facebook and get health, fitness and outdoors news throughout the day.

Promote Your Page Too

Leave a Reply