This weekend: Venture fourth

This July 4, celebrate our independence in the freedom of the great outdoors.

Note: Most coastal state parks are planning to close Thursday and Friday in anticipation of Hurricane Arthur. Their reopening is dependent upon Arthur’s wrath. Check the North Carolina State Parks website before heading to any park that may be affected by the storm.


There is, perhaps, no more fretful feeling than not knowing exactly where you are (the more pessimistic among us refer to this condition as being “lost”). You’ve lost the trail (you don’t remember seeing a blaze for 15 minutes), nothing looks familiar, daylight is waning. You think about those cartoons where the protagonist (Spongebob, say) is thrust into darkness, surrounded only by evil eyes.

Now imagine being able to not only figure your way out of a typical hardwood forest, but out of a dense swamp! That should be the case after attending Orienteering 101 on Sunday at Dismal Swamp State Park. The class is on the park’s new orienteering course (thanks to a local Eagle Scout) and should have you feeling better about your plight in the woods.

Logistics: Sunday, July 5, 2 p.m., Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills. 252.771.6593 to register.

Saturday forecast: High of 88, sunny.


Being outdoors is often about more than just hiking or paddling or climbing or biking. Sometimes, it’s about music, about arts & crafts, about food and, perhaps, beer.

The two-day (Friday and Saturday) Festival For the Eno at West Point on the Eno city park in Durham is one such occasion. For two days, you can hear 65 acts on four stages, wander among various vendors, check out a beer garden and, all the while, help the sponsoring Eno River Association protect the Eno River watershed. Plus, you can do some of your favorite outdoor activities, such as hike on the park’s five miles of trail or paddle the mile-long Eno millpond. A Triangle tradition for celebrating the Fourth.

Logistics: Friday and Saturday, July 4 & 5, West Point on the Eno City Park, Durham. $20, $30 for both days. More info here.

Friday and Saturday forecast: Highs in the mid- to upper 80s, partly cloudy Friday, sunny Saturday.


Fall color cascades in North Carolina from the highest, coolest elevations of the west to the warmer, lower east, the spring wildflower display does the opposite. If you haven’t caught the latter since it began in late February, time is running out. But there’s still wildflower action to be had at the state’s highest elevations, including Elk Knob State Park, where on Sunday, a park ranger will lead w wildflower hike.

The hike isn’t long, at a little more than two miles (out and back), but it does involve a good climb. Fortunately, you’ll be stopping often to check out the blooms.

Logistics: Sunday, July 5, 2 p.m., Elk Knob State Park, Todd. For more information, call 828.297.7261.

Sunday forecast: High of 75, mostly sunny.

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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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