This weekend: September is for State Parks

From paddling the Great Dismal Swamp to a morning hike to a mysterious hole to a mountain-top celebration, there’s a lot to in North Carolina’s State Parks this weekend.


The notion of paddling in a swamp is at once intriguing and slightly terrifying: People go into swamps and never come out, don’t they?

Those would be the folks who go into the swamp without a guide.

Imagine the Monday morning bragging rights of being able to tell folks you paddled the Great Dismal Swamp, which got its name from the first wave of vexed European explorers who tried in vain to enter, but was more accurately characterized by George Washington as “a glorious paradise.” Saturday is the park’s Fall Paddle: the first eight parties to register get to go on a ranger-led paddle on the Dismal Swamp Canal. All key paddling equipment provided on this trip that is “appropriate for beginners and families.”

Logistics: Saturday, Sept. 13, 10 a.m. Free. Pre-registration required, by calling Dismal Swamp State Park at 252.771.6593. Learn more about the canal, the park and the swamp here.

Saturday forecast: High of 83, 50 percent chance of rain.

Bobbitt Hole


One of the advantages of a ranger-led hike is that occasionally you get to peek behind the curtain and get a glimpse into a world few people know about.

That’s part of the attraction of Sunday morning’s Morning Hike: Cole Mill & Bobbitt Hole at Eno River State Park. On this nearly 3-mile double loop hike you’ll get a chance to see just around the bend, to Bobbitt Hole, one of several deep pools on the Eno River. Learn the facts and lore of Bobbitt Hole on this 8:30 a.m. hike.

Logistics: Sunday, Sept. 14, 8:30 a.m., Eno River State Park, Cole Mill Access. Free. 919.383.1686 to register. More about the park here.

Sunday forecast: High of 69, 50 percent chance of rain.

Atop Elk Knob.


Every year for the past decade, Elk Knob State Park has celebrated the heritage of this mountainous region with Elk Knob Headwaters Community Day. Live music, games, nature activities, wagon rides, crafts, cultural demonstrations, hands-on activities, history, food … let’s see, anything else? Oh yes, hikes!

It’s a pot luck, so bring a dish. Festivities run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Logistics: Saturday, Sept. 13, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. For more info, call 828.297.7261. For more on the park, go here.

Sunday forecast: High of 67, 40 percent chance of rain.

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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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