This weekend: A Labor of Fun

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer (technically, summer ends at 10:29 p.m. on Sept. 22). Either way, you don’t want to miss out on a weekend of fun, be it paddling after ‘gators at the coast or exploring the highest land east of South Dakota’s Black Hills.

Paddling out to Milltail Creek.


It’s Labor Day weekend, so you’re probably kicking out a little early, right? Early enough to make it to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge for Friday morning’s canoe tour on Milltail Creek?

The trip runs from 9 a.m. to noon and is led by a naturalist who, among other things, will show you the difference between a downed log and a “downed log” that blinks. In other words, the preserver’s namesake reptile, the alligator. And there are plenty of ‘em lining the banks of Milltail Creek. Bring a telephoto lens (hats, sunscreen and lots of water are a good idea, too).

Logistics: Friday, Aug. 29, 9 a.m.-noon, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, $40 for adults, $25 for kids 12 and under. Meeting location revealed when you call to register, at 252.216.9464. If you can’t make it Friday, the tour runs every Wednesday and Friday through September. Find more information on this and other NWR trips, here.

Friday forecast: Sunny, high of 78.


Experience the thrill of starting a fire from scratch.

Learning outdoor skills can be done one of two ways: based on your own mistakes or based on the mistakes of others. We prefer the latter, which is why we’re recommending Saturday’s Outdoor Skills: The 7 Priorities of Wilderness Survival at Charlotte’s McDowell Nature Preserve. The class is a mix of lecture and hands-on, a good combination for making skills stick.

Logistics: Saturday, Aug. 30, 2 p.m., McDowell Nature Preserve, Charlotte. $3. More info and to register go here and enter  #58424.

Saturday forecast: Sunny, high of 94.

Atop Mt. Craig


Mount Mitchell State Park is a great place to explore, but because of its rapidly changing weather and rugged terrain, it can be intimidating. A good place to explore with the folks who know the area best, like the park rangers.

Saturday, you have two opportunities to safely explore the highest country east of South Dakota’s Black Hills. At 9:30 a.m., join a ranger for an hour-and-a-half hike out to Mt. Craig and back, learning about the flora and fauna of this alpine setting. Miss that hike, or simply want more? Another guided hike explores the Commissary Trail, starting at 11 a.m.

Logistics: Saturday, Aug. 30, 9:30 and 11 a.m., Mount Mitchell State Park. 828.675.4611 for more info, or go here.

Saturday forecast: High of 84, 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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