This weekend: Welcome, winter

Don’t let a lack of daylight (Sunday is the winter solstice, fyi) keep you from venturing out. In fact, a lack of daylight is the reason for getting out Sunday at DuPont State Recreational Forest.


usfws3Sometimes we head into the wild to free our minds, sometimes our goal is to fill it. Sometimes, you end up doing both.

Saturday sounds like a prime opportunity for the latter at Dismal Swam State Park, where at 2 p.m. they’ll conduct a Winter Scavenger Hunt. First, there’s the notion of tromping around the Great Dismal, one of the wildest areas along the East Coast. As part of the hunt, you’ll learn, on this the most daylight-challenged day of the year, about how critters cope with the dark and cold. A great way to spend the first day of winter.

Logistics: Saturday, Dec. 20, 2 p.m., Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills. Dial 252.771.6593 for more info.

Saturday forecast: High of 43, chance of rain.


640.10765If you’ve hiked the Cabelands area of Eno River State Park in Durham, you’ve probably wondered what the deal is with the lake. First of all, it’s not a lake: it’s an abandoned quarry — and right away you’re interest is heightened. Quarry? How deep is it? When was it quarried? Where did the quarry’s content wind up? How did it wind up in the park? Any good ghost stories associated with the quarry? (For whatever reason, there’s always some mystery associated with a quarry.) And what about —

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Good questions all, and questions you can get answers to on Saturday’s Eno Quarry History Hike. The hike starts at 11 a.m.; participants are encouraged to: a) dress appropriately, b) bring water and snacks, and c) be 10 or older.

Logistics: Saturday, Dec. 20, 11 a.m., Eno River State Park’s Cabelands Access in Durham, on Laurel Ridge Road adjacent to Pleasant Green Road and U.S. 70. 919.383.1686 for more info.

Saturday forecast: High of 38, light rain possible.


Hooker_Falls_DuPont_State_Forest_NCNew to the whole night hike thing? Start short and on non-technical (but natural surface) trail.

Both criteria are met on Sunday’s ECO Winter Solstice Night Hike to Hooker Falls in DuPont State Recreational Forest near Hendersonville. The hike is lead by the nonprofit Environmental and Conservation Organization, which has been doing this Winter Solstice night hike since the late 1990s. The goal: get folks from in front of the TV on a cold winter night and playing an active role in something a lot more interesting. The timing, by the way, is a celebration of longer days to come. The hike is a half mile, roundtrip, on old roadbed. Dress in layers, bring a hot beverage and flashlight.

Logistics: Sunday, Dec. 21, 7-9 p.m., DuPont State Recreational Forest. For more on the hike, go here.

Sunday forecast: Daytime high of 49 dropping to 34 overnight. No mention of precipitation.

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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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