This weekend: Make it a memorable one

A classic paddle adventure at the coast, a weather reprieve on hiking in the Piedmont and everything under the sun — which will be shining bright — at the Mountain Sports Festival in Asheville: get out and celebrate your freedom this weekend.


Merchants Millpond

We may sound like a broken record, but one of the best adventure bargains going is canoeing at Merchants Millpond State Park. For just $5 an hour (and $3 for every hour thereafter), you can take out a canoe and explore this rambling, 760-acre millpond pocked with bald cypress, tupelo gum and the the assorted mysteries of a southern swamp.

It’s made even better Sunday afternoon when a park ranger leads Canoe 101. No paddling experience? No problem: the ranger will start you off with the basic strokes, then lead you on a paddle tour of this intriguing ecosystem. Best of all: there’s no fee. There are a limited number of boats available, though; sign-up ASAP to insure a spot (see below).

Logistics: Sunday, May 24, 2:30 p.m., Merchants Millpond State Park, Gatesville. Free, but space is limited; reserve a spot by calling 252.357.1191.

Sunday forecast: High of 82, mostly sunny.

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Looking ahead: Historical Southport Bicycle Tour, Saturday, May 30, 9 a.m. $20/$25. More info here.

Hiking north of Guess Road on the MST along the Eno River.


What to do on a sunny Sunday morning on a cusp-of-summer day when the daytime high will only reach the low ‘80s?

Take advantage of one of the last days amenable to hiking in the Piedmont before fall. Which is the plan for our GetHiking! Triangle crew as it takes on a 10-mile stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along the Eno River. The group will start at West Point on the Eno City Park in Durham, hike upstream through rocky passages, past signs of Durham’s past, around the inviting Eno Quarry and through a thicket of mountain laurel atop a bluff en route to the Pleasant Green Access.

Logistics: Sunday, May 24, 9:30 a.m., meet at the Pleasant Green Access to Eno River State Park. For more information and to sign up, visit GetHiking! Triangle.

Sunday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 82.

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Looking ahead: Volksmarch from the N.C. Museum of Art to Umstead State Park, 6.2 miles, Saturday, June 6, 2 p.m. More info here.


Take your bike for a hike (a k a cyclocross) at the Mountain Sports Festival.
Take your bike for a hike (a k a cyclocross) at the Mountain Sports Festival.

As Karen Chavez with the Asheville Citizen-Times puts it, this weekend’s 15th Annual Mountain Sports Festival “celebrates all-things outdoor-recreation” Friday through Sunday. Based in Asheville’s Carrier Park in the River Arts District, the MSF truly covers just about every active mountain activity you can imagine, from whitewater kayaking and cyclocross to Ultimate Frisbee, Inline Hockey and knot-tying. If you want to experience it, you can experience it here.

Check out Karen’s account of the event here. Then, check out the Mountain Sports Festival site below for more detailed information.

Logistics: Friday-Sunday, Carrier Park in Asheville. For details, consult the Mountain Sports Festival website.

Three-day forecast: Highs in the mid 70s to low 80s, mostly sunny.

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Looking ahead: Blue Ridge Bicycle Club’s Fletcher Flyer, June 7, 8 a.m., Oskar Blues Brewery, 342 Mountain Industrial Drive, Brevard. Full century, metric century, half century, and half metric rides; post-ride party. $45 until May 24, $55 after.

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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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