This weekend: Learn a thing

Learn your shorebirds at the coast, learn your wildflowers in the mountains. Meanwhile, in the Piedmont you can learn a new stretch of trail.


1545_Piping_Plover_04-28-2008_0Friday morning, our friends at the North Carolina Coastal Federation, along with Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours, are conducting a Coastal Birding Cruise. The one-hour boat ride, aboard The Shamrock, will explore the marsh and backwaters around Wrightsville Beach searching for shorebirds, from the pelican and black skimmer to (hopefully) the endangered piping plover (pictured). Guides will explain the area’s ecology as well. A great way to learn more about an area you may visit frequently, but likely don’t know well.

Logistics: Friday, April 3, 10 a.m., Blockade Runner Beach Resort Dock, Wrightsville Beach. $25-$35. More information: 910.509.2838 or visit here.

Friday forecast: High of 79, 20 percent chance of rain.


600_310045092We love new trail and try to jump on a new stretch as soon as it opens. So we’re a little disappointed in ourselves for waiting more than a half year to investigate the 5-mile stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that opened last year linking West Point on the Eno city park in Durham with Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve downstream.

But investigate it we will, finally, on Saturday, with our GetHiking! Triangle group. We’ll meet at West Point at 10 a.m., shuttle to Penny’s Bend, hike upstream back to West Point. It’s a relatively flat stretch, this five miles that links 12 miles of the MST along the Eno upstream of West Point on the Eno, and 60 miles downstream, along Falls Lake.

Logistics: Saturday, April 4, 10 a.m. For details and to sign up, visit GetHiking! Triangle.

Saturday forecast: High of 64, a chance of showers early, then clearing.


Sweet Betsy trillium (photo courtesy

There’s something about the Smokies and wildflowers that shouts great spring weekend in the mountains. Which is why we’re giving a shout out (Is that still hip to say? Are we trying too hard?) to Sunday’s Baxter Creek & Big Creek Wildflower Hike by the Carolina Mountain Club. The hike originates in the Big Creek Campground on the North Carolina side of the Smokies, goes up Baxter Creek to the overlook and back, then head up Big Creek to Mouse Creek Falls, and back. Expect old growth forest and wildflowers in bloom.

Logistics: Sunday, April 5, 8:30 a.m., Big Creek Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Contact hike leader Stuart English — 828.384.4870, — to sign up and for more crucial logistical information. For more details on the hike, including maps, go here.

Sunday forecast: High of 65, sunny skies.

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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 coastal 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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