This weekend: Fun in the parks

Chalk Banks, Lumber River. Photo courtesy N.C. State Parks

This week’s offerings all come courtesy North Carolina State Parks, where on any given weekend (and on a lot of days throughout the week) you’ll find an array of interesting — and usually free — programs. Check out the State Parks curriculum here, and read on for suggestions on how you can live and learn in the great outdoors this weekend.


The Lumber River doesn’t get the attention it deserves for one simple reason: it’s not near any of the state’s major population areas. But time on the river is time well spent (especially in light of the no money spent).

Saturday, Lumber River State Park sponsors a guided canoe trip down the Lumber. It’s a two-hour float, originating from the Chalk Banks Access at 10:30 a.m. All gear — boat, paddles, pfds — are provided; you just need to bring water, snacks and plenty of sunscreen. And although it’s free, you need to reserve space in advance (see below).

Logistics: Saturday, June 21, 10:30 a.m., Lumber River State Park, Lumberton. 910.628.4564.

Saturday forecast: High of 95, chance of thunderstorms.

Jordan Lake, near the Weaver Creek impoundment


Just the other day we were talking about great places to paddle in the Piedmont and the Weaver Creek sub impoundment at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area came up. Main reason it’s better than the rest of Jordan Lake for paddlers? No power boats.

Main reason to paddle it Sunday? Jordan Lake Ranger Steve McMurray is leading canoe trip of the impoundment. Ranger McMurray’s enthusiasm is exceeded only by his knowledge of the area’s natural attributes. A trip with Ranger McMurray is time well spent with a paddle. And if you’ve ever wanted to see a bald eagle in person, paddling with Ranger McMurray usually does the trick.

Logistics: Sunday, 10 a.m., Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, Apex. All gear provided and it’s free, but you need to preregister to save a space: 919.362.0586, x-219.

Saturday forecast: High of 87 with a foggy start to the day.

Picturesque Mount Jefferson. Photo courtesy N.C. State Parks


Ever admire the work of the great plein air artists and wondered, “How do they do that?”

Sunday’s Painting the Mountain class at Mount Jefferson State Natural Area doesn’t promise to turn you into a Winslow Homer, but it does guarantee an hour of fun with tempera on canvas. And, again, the only investment required is your time.

Logistics: Sunday, June 22, 2 p.m., Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson. 336.246.9653 to reserve a spot.

Sunday forecast: High of 76, thunderstorms.

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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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