This weekend: Hike with Mom

Blue Clay Bike Park. Photo courtesy

Let’s not forget mom this Mother’s Day weekend! Take her for a mountain bike ride at the Coast on Saturday, then on Sunday go looking for wildflowers in the Piedmont or take her for a mountain hike. (Er, and in the spirit of Leave No Trace, resist the urge to pick those wildflowers for mom. She’ll understand.)


In part because of the name, you usually don’t think of the coast when your thoughts turn to mountain biking. Yet one of the more fun and challenging trail networks in the state is at Blue Clay Bike Park in Castle Hayne, just outside Wilmington. Blue Clay is a rare example of a bandit bike trail network that didn’t succumb to development, but rather became part of the system, the New Hanover County Parks & Garden system. Today, Blue Clay’s eight miles of trail offers a swampy ride that manages to stay above the swamp.

It’s also the location of Saturday’s Pedal in the Park event, part of the New Hanover County Parks & Gardens efforts to celebrate National Bike Month. The event, held in conjunction with the Cape Fear Southeast Off-Road Bicycle Association, is geared toward growing new riders out of the 7-14 set.

Logistics: Saturday, May 10, 10 a.m., Blue Clay Bike Park, Castle Hayne. More info at 910.798.7622

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 83.

photo courtesy


Sunday is your last chance to check out the Eno River Association’s weekly Spring Wildflower Hike series. Begun in March, the series follows the bloom of wildflowers throughout the Eno River Valley. As the season begins to fade, the series ends, fittingly, at the highest point in the Triangle, 867-foot Occoneechee Mountain.

Curiously, though, the hike will focus on the lowest part of Occoneechee Mountain, along the Eno River, where a north-facing bluff created conditions conducive to supporting a montane community. If you want to check out the mountain laurel bloom without driving to the mountains, here’s your chance.

Logistics: Sunday, May 11, 2 p.m., Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 84.

Hike a section of the MST near Mt. Pisgah, then take mom to dinner at the Pisgah Inn.


What says “Thanks, Mom!” — in our book, at least —more than taking mom out for a hike? In the high country, Mother’s Day falls at a particularly opportune time, what with all the wildflowers in bloom.

But with so many options in our Southern Appalachians, where best to go? Our friend Karen Chavez, fellow guidebook writer and outdoors editor at the Asheville Citizen-Times, offers her suggestions in a post from Wednesday. Looking for a hike with wildflowers? Where you can take mom for dinner afterwards? Or one where you don’t have to worry about her dropping you? Karen has ideas.

Logistics: Check out Karen’s recommendations here.

Sunday forecast: High of 84 under mostly sunny skies is forecast for Asheville.

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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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