This weekend: Cool paddles, night hikes

You know you had a good weekend — and a three-day one at that — when you start planning the coming weekend on Tuesday. So much to do as the weather warms, so little time to plan for it.


Deep down, you really do have a sense of adventure. All you need is a little push to let it bloom, a knowledgeable, supportive guide to help you test the waters. And who could be better at providing such a reassuring introduction into the wild than a state park ranger?

Friday, a ranger at Hammocks Beach State Park will do just that on a two- to three-hour guided kayak tour of the marsh around Hammocks Beach. Once you get those first few strokes under your lifejacketed self, you’ll be ready to set sail into a world of new adventure. An especially good option if you’re already at the beach, a little too relaxed and looking for something more challenging than toddling down to the surf and sticking in your toe.

Logistics: Friday, May 30, 8:30 a.m., Hammocks Beach State Park near Swansboro. Free, all equipment (boat, paddle, lifejacket) provided. More info and to pre-register, which is required: 910-326-4881.

Friday forecast: High of 78, a chance of rain that increases as the day wears on.


Here’s something you don’t get to do — legally, at least: explore a state park after dark. But Saturday evening (and again on Saturday, June 28 if you can’t make it this week), the gates to Morrow Mountain state park will stay open to 11 p.m., a little more than two hours past sunset. That means if the evening is clear, you an climb Morrow Mountain and check out the lights as far off as Charlotte.

Of course, seeking signs of civilization isn’t the purpose of exploring in the dark, learning about what the natural world does after hours is. And if you have questions — say, about that surprise noise next to you that made you set a PR in the 40 — a park ranger will be on hand.

Logistics: Saturday, May 31, until 11 p.m., Morrow Mountain State Park, Albemarle. More info: 704.982.4402.

Saturday forecast: Daytime high of 84, chance of rain that diminishes into the evening.


This notion of exploring at night — which we’ve long been a fan of, especially during the steamy days of summer — is catching on. Friday night, New River State Park hosts a night hike along its namesake river. The hike is about a mile and a half long and is on easy to moderate trails. Sturdy shoes and a headlamp or flashlight are required.

Logistics: 8:30 p.m., Friday, May 30, US 221 Access, New River State Park, Laurel Springs. More info: 336.982.2587.

Friday forecast: Daytime high of 70, chance of rain increasing as the night wears on.

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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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