This weekend: Birding, hiking

North Carolina is forecast to be rainy in the east, sunny in the west. Either way, we’ve found plenty of incentive to get out this weekend.

Tundra swans over Lake Phelps (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)


Normally, we don’t get excited about hundreds of thousands of temporary visitors settling in for the season at the coast. But when the season is winter and the visitors are tundra swans, snow geese and assorted ducks, it’s a different story.

Come to Pettigrew State Park Saturday on check out the array of waterfowl overwintering on the park’s Lake Phelps and 500 surrounding acres of pocosin habitat. A ranger will explain who’s who and discuss what it is about this area that makes for such an alluring winter home.

Logistics: Saturday, Feb. 8, 9 a.m. Pettigrew State Park, Creswell. For more info, call 252.797.4475.

Saturday forecast: High of 49, 90 percent chance of rain. In short, good birding weather.

The quarry-inspired cliff face at Occoneechee Mountain (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)


You’re hiking a trail when suddenly you come across a vague disturbance in the terrain. It’s man-made, that much is obvious. An old roadbed, perhaps. Or a long abandoned rail line. It’s a common occurrence on hikes in this part of the country, where our parks and forests are often reclaimed from remnants of a cultivated past. Where did it come from? you wonder. And where did it go?

Often, such questions are left unanswered. But not this Saturday at Occoneechee State Natural Area in Hillsborough, where a ranger will lead an exploration of the old Occoneechee Railroad, which once hauled rock taken from a long-abandoned — but once very active; just look at the resulting gash in the mountain — quarry. Another perk of The Search for the Occoneeche Railroad? Much of it is off trail.

Logistics: Saturday, Feb. 8, 11 a.m. Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area,  Hillsborough. For more info and to register: 919.383.1686.

Saturday forecast: Periods of rain, high around 50.


Davidson River area of the Pisgah National Forest

The Davidson River area of the Pisgah National Forest outside of Brevard is rich in great hiking. Thus, it’s never a surprise to be surprised by a hike.

Take the case of the Coontree-Bennett Gap-Pressley Cove Lollipop hike planned for Sunday by the Carolina Mountain Club. This 8.4-miler begins off US 276 and heads east, passing, among other sights, an old farming community that once existed between Pressley Cove and Maxwell Cove. A good day of moderate to challenging hiking in classic Pisgah terrain.

Logistics: Sunday, Feb. 9, 9 a.m. US 276 north of Brevard. Contact hike leader Bob Hysko at 828.243.3630 or or more information and to reserve as spot.

Sunday forecast: Sunny and a high of 49.

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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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