This weekend: Horses, hikes, pickleballs

Horses take beach vacations, too? Learn the true story behind the horses of Shackleford Banks on Saturday.

Are the horses on the Outer Banks on your list of mysteries of the universe? Are you perplexed by pickelball? And what’s the deal with the Graveyard Fields Overlook, anyway?

Answers to these and other questions on how to spend your weekend follow.


We have questions when we venture into the wild. What kind of tree is that? Why is there poison ivy? Why is there a horse standing on the beach?

The latter is a question you might ask visiting Shackleford Banks, part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. And it’s a question you might ask and find an answer to on Saturday’s Horse Sense and Survival Tour. A National Park Service ranger takes you on a tour of Shackleford Banks in search of the island’s wild horses. A ferry ride from Harkers Island is included, if you don’t have your own boat.

Logistics: Saturday, July 19, 8 – 11:20 a.m., Cape Lookout National Seashore (with ferry from Harkers Island). $15 for adults, $8 for kids 11 and under. Reservations required, by calling 252.728.2250, ext. 0. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 82, 30 percent chance of rain.


Psst! Pickelball.

Seriously! It’s proponents claim its “America’s fastest growing sport,” and based on this video, it looks like a lot of fun. It’s a little tennis, a little badminton, a little pingpong, a little whiffleball, and it’s the focus of Saturday’s Pickelball Play Day at the Fuquay-Varina Community Center. The two-hour program features a demonstration clinic. Is there a pickelballer lurking within? Come find out.

Logistics: Saturday, July 19, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Fuquay-Varina Community Center, 820 Main St., Fuquay-Varina. Free. Call 919.552.1430 for more info.

Saturday forecast: High of 87. Partly cloudy? Mostly sunny!

Descending toward Graveyard Fields from the west, on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.


This weekend’s mountain recommendation is more of a do-it-yourself, work-it-in-when-you-can activity. The Graveyard Fields access on the Blue Ridge Parkway, closed since mid-April for installation of a bathroom and to expand parking, has reopened. The popular parkway pullout provides access to hiking and waterfall exploration in the Graveyard Fields area, as well as access to the Shining Rock Wilderness and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Good access if you want to go short, good access if you want to go long.

You’ve got all kinds of hiking options from Graveyard Fields. Among the most popular is the Graveyard Fields Loop, a four-mile hike that spends time along Yellowstone Prong, explores Second Falls and offers some good views. The National Forest Service’s Shining Rock map helps you plot a variety of hikes.

Logistics: Graveyard Fields, Milepost 418, Blue Ridge Parkway. More info here.

Weekend forecast: Highs around 70, chance of afternoon 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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