This weekend: Grab a paddle

This weekend recognizes two fundamentals of outdoor recreation: One, when it’s hot out, water is an essential element of any activity. And two, sometimes you just can’t wait until the weekend to have some weekend fun.


WP.CoastGuided canoe trips are great. Sometimes, though, they can be a little staid: Now if we all raft up and be still, we might see the alligator gar surface to feed. Usually doesn’t take more than a half hour, again, provided no one moves or speaks … .”

Sometimes, though, you just need to let loose, to let go and have some good old fashioned water fun. And if you’re having that fun in a kayak, it only makes sense that the resulting activity would be funyaking. Which is just what they’ll be doing Saturday morning at 10 a.m. on the 11-acre lake at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park not too far from Goldsboro. You must be at least 10 years old to participate; no mention of an age restriction on the other end — woo hoo! Prepare to get wet playing games in your kayak.

Logistics: Saturday, June 27, 10 a.m., Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, Seven Springs. Free, but space is limited and preregistration is required, by calling 919.778.6234.

Saturday forecast: High of 86, chance of thunderstorms.

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Planning ahead: Wellness Walk, Saturday, July 11, Smith Creek Park, Wilmington. These monthly walks (every second Saturday) are lead by registered nurses and are a great opportunity to introduce walking into your wellness regimen. More info here.


The Yadkin River, near Bean Shoals (photo courtesy NC State Parks)

Here’s a trip that would make any adventure lover jump the weekend starting gun: Friday morning’s Canoe Trip on the Yadkin River at Pilot Mountain State Park. The stretch in question: the 6.5 miles through the Bean Shoals area to Donnaha Park.

An especially great opportunity for beginning river paddlers: canoe, paddle and pfd are provided, as is the guidance of a park ranger. The only things you need to bring to the paddle party: a hat, sunscreen, water, lunch and a way to get from the take-out back to your car (at the put-in).

Logistics: Friday, June 26, 10 a.m., South River Section canoe launch at Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle. Free, but equipment is limited; RSVP in advance by calling the park at 336.325.2355.

Friday forecast: High of 94, sunny.

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Planning ahead: Every toyed with the notion of trying a triathlon? Fit & Able Production’s Plunge Pedal & Plod is the perfect opportunity to test your triworthiness. There’s the Tri A Bit option (50-yard swim, 4K bike, 1.6K run), Tri A Bit More (200 yards/8K/2.4 K) and Tri A Lot (400 meters/12K/3K). It’s Aug. 16 at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary. More info here.


Paddy Creek area of Lake James (photo courtesy NC State Parks)
Paddy Creek area of Lake James (photo courtesy NC State Parks)

Lake James may look like a big lake more subject to Piedmont heat than mountain cool, but located at the base of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and fed by the chill waters of the Linville River, its waters are refreshing, especially in the recent heat. And while the goal of paddling is not to become one with the water, worse things can happen.

Still, Lake James State Park Superintendent Nora Coffey promises a refreshing journey in the upright position on Saturday morning’s Canoe Excursion. Pushing off at 9 a.m. in the Paddy’s Creek area of the lake, Super Coffey will show you around the lake she calls home. BYOB, or call in advance for one of six loaner canoes available, for free, for this program. And if you do opt for a park boat, “ … be prepared to share your journey with a new friend if you are a single and space dictates.”

Logistics: Saturday, June 27, 9 a.m. Paddy Creek Area of Lake James State Park, Nebo. Free, but space is limited: 828.584.7728 to reserve a spot.

Saturday forecast: High of 85, chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

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Planning ahead: Looking for a mountain ride? Check out the Blue Ridge Breakaway on August 15 at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. Routes of varying distances and difficulty. Investigate 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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