This weekend: On the trail of fun

A “brawl” at the coast, IDing trees in the Piedmont, checking out new trail in the mountains: it’s another active weekend in North Carolina.

Riding Brunswick Nature Park (photo courtesy Sir-Bikes-Alot)


You wouldn’t think that a nature preserve would be a suitable venue for a “brawl.” But when that   preserve is the Brunswick Nature Park in Winnabow, with nine miles of singletrack mountain bike trail, then the venue does indeed seem appropriate for Saturday’s Brunswick Brawl endurance race.

Sponsored by Cape Fear SORBA, the brawl consists of six-hour, three-hour and one-hour mountain bike races. Racing is by sex and age group, and registration includes food and a T-shirt for all who preregister. How do you do that? you ask. Keep reading …

Logistics: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11, Brunswick Nature Park, Winnabow. Registration ranges from $40 (for the one-hour race) to $100 (for duos in the six-hour race). Find out more about the race and sign up here.

Saturday forecast: High of 85, sunny.

Color last weekend at South Mountains State Park


Now’s an especially good time to get to know your trees, what with them changing color and all. Instead of returning to work Monday and saying, “Yeah we went for a hike and saw all these purty-colored trees,” you can say, “The deep crimsons of the sourwood were a sight, and the resplendent oranges of the sugar maples may have been the richest hues I’ve yet witnessed in the woodlands.” Or something like that.

Saturday, you can put a name to the color on a Tree ID Hike at South Mountains State Park south of Morganton. We were there last weekend and the color was just beginning to pop, boding well for this weekend. The hike is on the Hemlock Nature Trail; we suggest following that up with a loop hike on the 2.7-mile High Shoals Falls Trail. Lots of great scenery in an under-appreciated state park.

Logistics: 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 11, South Mountains State Park, Connelly Springs. More info at 828.433.4772.

Saturday forecast: High of 75, chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

Summit Trail at Elk Knob State Park (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)


Ever on the lookout for new hiking trails? Especially in the mountains?

Saturday, help christen the new Beech Tree Trail at Elk Knob State Park with a ranger-led hike at 10 a.m. After helping to break in the new trail, hike the Summit Trail which takes you to great 360-degree views atop 5,520-foot Elk Knob. A good hike any time of year, especially rewarding with fall color beginning to peek in the area.

Logistics: 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 11, Elk Knob State Park, Todd. More info at 829.297.7261.

Saturday forecast: High of 70, chance of 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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