This weekend: Reasons to start hiking and go star gazing

From mellow hikes at the coast and in the mountains to a statewide star party, your prospects for adventure are looking up in North Carolina.


Latimer House
Latimer House

This is the perfect event if you’ve been thinking: I really should get moving more, and now that the weather’s awesome I don’t have a good excuse not to be active. Still …

Before you complete that whiny moan, here us out about Sunday’s Walking Tour of Historic Churches in downtown Wilmington. The walk begins from the Latimer House on South Third Street, visits seven churches and covers about two miles —

Two miles!? I couldn’t possibly —

Hup! Hup! Here us out! The walk, sponsored by the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, covers 2 miles over about two and a half hours time. It’s a slow pace and you’re stopping at least seven times to learn the history of these buildings that have played a key role in the city’s history. No excuses! Read on to see how to sign up.

Logistics: Sunday, April 26, 1:30 p.m., downtown Wilmington. $10 (plus tax) for adults, $5 (plus tax) for kids and students. More information here

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 70.

Photo courtesy


It’s a party and it will be loaded with stars! The type that shine bright but don’t make a big deal over it, that is.

Friday and Saturday evenings, it’s the NC Science Festival’s annual Statewide Star Party! Astronomy clubs, state and local parks, planetariums and nature centers are hosting public skywatching sessions at dozens of sites statewide; we target the Piedmont here because most are close to the state’s population centers, which means you’re more likely to attend.

Show up and avail yourself of high tech telescopes and informed sky watchers who can tell you where to look and what you’re looking for. See the link below to find the party nearest you.

Logistics: Friday evening, April 24, and Saturday evening, April 25. Check out the NC Science Festival Statewide Star Party site for the celebration nearest you.

Friday and Saturday evening forecasts: Friday evening looks like your best bet, with showers hike expected Saturday evening throughout much of the Piedmont. Check the weather forecaster nearest you for a better sense of what might be happening in your hood.


Bolen's Creek courtesy
Bolen’s Creek courtesy

Here’s a mountain hike for the person who wants to get moving, but doesn’t want to get moving too quickly, too far and too soon.

Sunday, the High Peaks Association leads a mellow hike on the Black Mountain Crest Trail. Now, if you’re at all familiar with the 13-mile Black Mountain Crest Trail, which spends much of its time grappling with 6,000-foot peaks, you’re likely thinking, How the heck can you be mellow on the Crest Trail?

By sticking to the northernmost mile, along Bolen’s Creek is how. Hiking through a mature forest, which is just beginning to leaf out, the opportunities for spring wildflower viewing are great. And passage along Bolen’s Creek is memorable regardless the time of year. And if you’re familiar with the north end of the Crest Trail you might also be thinking the trailhead barely has room for a Smart Car, let alone a fleet of Priuses piloted by eager wildflower hunters. That’s why hikers will meet in the Burnsville Town Square and shuttle to the trailhead.

Logistics: Sunday, April 26, 1 p.m., Burnsville Town Square (meeting place). $5 for van ride to trailhead. More information here.

Sunday forecast: High of 63, possible morning showers moving out of the region.

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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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