This weekend: Paddle, hike, ski

True, there is a chance of rain forecast across the state, especially on Saturday. But what’s a forecast? A prediction? An educated guess? Some folks at the local TV station throwing darts? Make plans and keep checking back to see what the latest educated guess is.


Photo of Beech Mountain courtesy the drone of Jordan Nelson of
Photo of Beech Mountain courtesy the drone of Jordan Nelson of

Canoeing the millpond at Merchants Millpond State Park is, to paraphrase Julie Andrews, one of our favorite things. The canoe rentals are cheap ($5 for the first hour, $3 for each additional) and the adventure through sprawling cypress and tupelo gum trees on the 760-acre millpond is boundless. The only thing better than a self-guided trip is to tag along with someone who knows the pond.

Someone like a park ranger, who will be leading Sunday’s Waterfowl of Merchants Millpond paddle. Learn about the waterfowl who inhabit the millpond, both seasonally and year-round, as well as the millpond’s significance in their lives. And because this is a park program, there’s no fee.

Logistics: Sunday, Dec. 7, 2:30 p.m., Merchants Millpond State Park, Gatesville. Free, but pre-registration is required, by calling 252.357.1191. More about the park and the millpond here.

Saturday forecast: High of 67, chance of rain.


Horton Grove Nature Preserve
Horton Grove Nature Preserve

New trail is always a welcome thing. Saturday, you’ll have the chance to welcome three new miles of trail at the Triangle Land Conservancy’s Horton Grove Nature Preserve in northern Durham County. Horton Grove, at 708 acres, is the TLC’s largest preserve, and with three new miles of trail bringing the preserve total to eight, it’s also the preserve with the most path.

To celebrate the new trail, TLC will hold guided hikes at Horton Grove from 1-4 p.m. Saturday. Hikes on just the new trail, hikes on most of the preserve’s trails for newcomers. Horton Grove is a diverse slice of Piedmont, with upland oak-hickory forests, beech slopes, stands of mixed pine and hardwoods and a 20-acre Piedmont Prairie restoration in progress.

Logistics: Saturday, Dec. 6, 1-4 p.m., Horton Grove Nature Preserve, Durham County. For directions and more information, go here.

Saturday forecast: High of 62, chance of rain.


Paddling Merchants Millpond (photo courtesy N.C.,State Parks)
Paddling Merchants Millpond (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)

We haven’t mentioned skiing in a while — and likely won’t again until after the Christmas crush. But if you’ve got the need for white speed, North Carolina’s slopes are in good shape for this early in the season. Appalachian, Beech, Cataloochee and Sugar are all operating, generally with at least half of their respective mountains open. Snowshoe in West Virginia is open and Wintergreen in Virginia plans to reopen this weekend. Skiing or riding on a budget? Lift tickets at Appalachian are just $5 this weekend.

Intrigued? Check out your options and get the latest news at

Logistics: Check

Weekend forecast: Sunday looks the most promising, according to Ray’s Weather, with some sun and highs around 40.

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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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