This weekend: Park your kid, hike the MST, Tri Lake James

This weekend may finally solve the dilemma of how to get your kid off the couch and into wild. It’s also a great time to celebrate Mountains-to-Sea Trail Month, and a good time as well to indulge the many recreational opportunities of Lake James State Park.


The Hermit's Bunker (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)
The Hermit’s Bunker (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)

Got a kid or kids you’ve been trying to entice onto the trail, only to encounter interference — typically of the electronic kind?

  • Saturday is National Kids to Parks Day, and as part of the celebration Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is conducting a nature hike on the Basin Trail. This hike is especially good for kids because:
  • It involves the beach and the promise of a dip at hike’s end.
  • It’s not long, about 1.5 miles total.
  • It’s a cool area: you can see forever and the intriguing nature along the way will be explained by a park ranger.
  • It encounters a concrete bunker from World War II. And not just any bunker, but a bunker that was inhabited for years by Robert Harrill, the “Fort Fisher Hermit,” who abandoned society in search of a simpler life.
  • There’s the prospect of seeing critters.
    Let’s see Donkey Kong compete with that.

Logistics: Saturday, May 16, 10 a.m., Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, Kure Beach. Free. For more information, contact Alyssa Taylor at 910.458.5798 or

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 75.

Looking ahead: Friday, May 22, 8:30 a.m., Kayaking at Hammocks Beach State Park, Free. 910.326.4881

Hiking the Eno
Hiking the Eno


It’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail Month; this weekend, Eno River State Park will celebrate the fact that several miles of the MST runs through it with three hikes, two on Saturday, one on Sunday, all on particularly effective wilderness escapes through an urban area.

Saturday at 8:30 a.m., a ranger will lead a hike from the park’s Pleasant Green Access to the Eno Quarry. Highlights: a mature floodplain forest, passage through a mountain laurel thicket on a bluff overlooking the Eno, the Eno Quarry, more mountain lake than abandoned rock mine. Out-and-back distance: 3 miles. Then, at 1 p.m., they’ll hike from the Cabelands Access downstream to the Pump Station Access. Highlights: more elevation in the form of climbs and drops, often through rocky sections. Total distance: 5 miles.

Sunday at 1 p.m., they’ll hike the stretch from Pump Station downstream to the Guess Road boundary of the park. Highlights: more rocky passages, more mature floodplain forest, the old Guess Road dam and long-abandoned Durham water works. Total distance: 4.4 miles.

Logistics: Saturday, 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., Sunday, 1 p.m., Eno River State Park. Free. For information on where to meet and other details, call the park at 919.383.1686.

Weekend forecast: Mostly sunny Saturday with a high of 83, mostly cloudy Sunday with a high of 86 and a chance of Thunderstorms.

Looking ahead: Intrigued by the geology of where you hike but clueless about what it is you’re looking at? Again, along the Eno, on Saturday, May 23, there’s a Geology Hike at Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area in Hillsborough at 2 p.m., a Geology Hike at Cox Mountain in Eno River State Park at 9 a.m. More info: 919.383.1686

Lake James swim
Lake James swim


Looking down at Lake James a couple weekends ago from Shortoff Mountain, we couldn’t help but think about all the great things to do below: swim, bike, run … .

Saturday, they’ll be doing all of the above, in that order, quickly, at the Lake James Triathlon. A 750-meter swim in the cool, Linville River-fed waters of Lake James; a 22-mile bike ride around the lake; a 5K trail run — what a great way to spend the day. Tend to sink in the water? There’s a duathlon as well.

Logistics: Saturday, May 16, day-of-race registration from 6-7:30 p.m., both races commence at 8 a.m. Lake James State Park, Nebo. $65 for triathlon, $55 for duathlon. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 84, chance of thunderstorm (but likely in the afternoon).

Looking ahead: Friday, May 22 through Sunday, May 24, is the 15th Annual Mountain Sports Festival in Asheville. Trail races, mountain bike races, standup paddleboarding, kayaking — pretty much everything you might expect at a mountain sports festival in Asheville. Read more here.

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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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