This weekend: NC Smorgasbord

This weekend, enjoy a feast of North Carolina adventure, with a guided paddle at the coast (in a salt marsh at Hammocks Beach State Park), a wildflower-themed hike in the Piedmont (at the Triangle Land Conservancy’s Horton Grove Nature Preserve), or all things mountain at one of the first mountain festivals of the season (at Elks Knob State Park).


Exploring the salt marsh between Hammocks Beach and Bear Island.

We’re often asked, “GetGoingNC, why aren’t there more free opportunities for us to get out on the water with paddle in hand?” In our quest to get you moving and keep you moving, we’re working on that. In the meantime … .

Saturday is one of the best no-cost options going for an entertaining and informative guided kayak trip: a two-hour guided kayak tour at Hammocks Beach State Park. Led by a park ranger and with all key equipment (kayak, paddle, pfd) provided gratis, you’ll explore the salt marsh separating Hammocks Beach from the state park’s key attraction: Bear Island, a three-mile barrier island. The water here is protected, shallow, well-suited for beginning paddlers and wildlife viewing enthusiasts alike.

Logistics: Saturday, April 11, 11 a.m., Hammocks Beach State Park, Swansboro. For more information and to register — because space is limited — call the park office at 910.326.4881.

Saturday forecast: High of 69 with a high chance of rain that drops precipitously as the 11 a.m. start nears.


Meadow at the entrance to Horton Grove.

Again, we find ourself in the position of humping our own GetHiking! hike. But really, this promo has little to do with us and everything to do with the hike venue: the Triangle Land Conservancy’s Horton Grove Nature Preserve.

Horton Grove, at 708 acres TLC’s largest preserve, sits atop the Piedmont north of Durham. It’s a mix of mature upland oak-hickory forests, beech slopes and mixed pine and hardwoods, as well as open meadows and grasslands, including two small native plant meadows. The terrain means lots of opportunity for wildlife viewing and, considering the season, wildflowers in bloom.

We’ll hike about eight miles, with options for shorter hikes. We’ll get underway at 10 a.m.

Logistics: Sunday, April 12, 10 a.m., Horton Grove Nature Preserve, Durham County. For more information and to sign up, visit GetHiking! Triangle.

Sunday forecast: Sunny skies, high of 71.

View from atop Elk Knob (photo courtesy NC State Parks)
View from atop Elk Knob (photo courtesy NC State Parks)


Eager to kick off the mountain festival season, but not crazy about waiting another couple months to do so?

Elk Knob State Park and the Elk Knob Community Heritage Association have you covered, with Sunday’s Elk Knob Headwaters Community Day. Live music, games, nature activities, hikes, wagon rides, craft and cultural demonstrations, hands-on activities, history and a potluck — six hours of mountain fun in a meadow at the entrance to the park, located just outside Todd.

Logistics: Sunday, April 12, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Elk Knob State Park, Todd. For more information, call 828.297.7261

Sunday forecast: High of 65, mostly sunny.

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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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