This weekend: Cool adventure


Winter is approaching, but the temperatures this weekend will be more autumnal. Perfect, in fact, for getting out and shaking the lethargy of a Thanksgiving feast. Carolina Beach State Park gives you good reason to head for the coast, there’s a rare opportunity to explore a Jordan Lake tributary in the Piedmont, and in the mountains, the trail less traveled could be the one yielding the biggest reward.


Carolina Beach S.P., along the Cape Fear River. Photo courtesy N.C. State Parks

Winter is the best time to be at the coast. The beach crowds have scattered, replaced by overwintering waterfowl. The skies are crisp, the air bracing. If you like exploring, this is the time to do it along the coast. Sometimes, though, you need a little push.

Saturday, Carolina Beach State Parks offers such a nudge with its one-hour Biological Wonderland program. It’s a popular program at the park, giving visitors a quick overview of this incredibly diverse area, an area best known for its rare, carnivorous plant life. Come early, familiarize yourself on the park’s six miles of trail, then swing by the Flytrap Trail parking lot and get enlightened.

Logistics: Saturday, Nov. 30, 2 p.m., Carolina Beach State Park, Carolina Beach. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 61.


Jordan Lake in winter

We have two weak spots when it comes to paddling. One, the winter, when a naked canopy makes it easier to peer into the woods surrounding you. Two, exploring new, exotic places.

Maybe the White Oak Creek area of Jordan Lake doesn’t strike you as exotic, but every time I’ve biked over it on the American Tobacco Trail I’ve been intrigued by its swampy feel, by where it comes from, where it goes. Saturday presents a rare opportunity to determine both when Jordan Lake Park Ranger Steve McMurray leads a paddle trip from the lake up White Oak Creek. A sense of adventure is guaranteed.

Logistics: Saturday, Nov. 30, 1 p.m., Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. Free, but preregistration required. You can do that, and get more information, by contacting Ranger McMurray at at 919.362.0586, ext 219, or at steve.mcmurray@ncparks

Saturday forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 48.


Don’t your ears tend to perk when you hear of a hike described as using “a rarely used trail”? That means that even on a gorgeous late fall day you won’t likely encounter other hikers, and because the trail is rarely used — and under-maintained, most likely — there’s what I like to call on the hikes I lead, a heightened opportunity for adventure (translation: a good chance of getting lost). The latter isn’t likely in this case, as Sunday’s 7.5-mile hike on the rarely used Rough Creek Trail in the Pisgah National Forest is being lead by savvy Carolina Mountain Club hike leader Lenny Bernstein.

Logistics: Sunday, Dec. 1, 9 a.m. (carpool meeting time from Asheville). Contact Carolina Mountain Club hike leader Lenny Bernstein, at 828.450.1325, Learn more about the hike here.

Sunday forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 48.

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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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