This weekend: In a blue moon

It’s that time of the month — for the second time. That makes for a rare opportunity to see two full moons in one month, and whether you see it from the water or a mountaintop, it’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. Three of your viewing options follow.


Photo courtesy
Photo courtesy

You’ve heard the phrase, “Once in a Blue Moon,” referring to something that doesn’t happen often? Well, the event for which the idiom is named is happening this Friday, and Halyburton Park in Wilmington plans to take advantage of it with a Blue Moon Kayaking Adventure.

Shoving off at 5 p.m. from River Road Park, the paddlers will make their way to Shark Tooth Island, returning under the aforementioned blue moon at 9 p.m.

So what is a blue moon? In this context it’s when two full moons appear in one month, the later moon being the blue moon. And how rare is it? The next one won’t occur until 2018.

Logistics: Friday, July 31, 5 p.m., River Road Park, Wilmington. $45 if you need a boat, $35 if you bring your own. For more info and to preregister, go here.

Friday evening forecast: High of 87 at 5 p.m., chance of thunderstorms.

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Looking ahead: Think you’re a pretty good beach volleyball player? Make plans to drop by Carolina Beach on Saturday, August 8, and catch the action at the Carolina Beach Pro-Am, featuring some of the best players around. More info here.


Lake Townsend (photo courtesy Greensboro Parks & Rec)
Lake Townsend (photo courtesy Greensboro Parks & Rec)

Bummed because you live in the Triad and you just read about the Blue Moon Kayak Adventure in Wilmington, which is just a bit too far a drive?

Does driving to Greensboro’s Lake Townsend sound more doable?

Then you’re in luck, because Greensboro Parks & Rec is also sponsoring a blue moon paddle, this one from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday evening. Not only do you get to paddle under this rare full moon, but you’ll enjoy the cooling temperatures of the day as well.

Logistics: Friday, July 31, 8-10 p.m., Lake Townsend, Greensboro. $15 for a single, $22 for a tandem, $8 to launch your own craft. More info here.

Friday evening forecast: Clear skies, high at 8 p.m. of 80.

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Looking ahead: Really bummed because you can’t even make Friday night’s Lake Townsend paddle and the notion of a night paddle is really appealing? Worry not, Greesnboro has additional paddles planned for its watershed lakes on August 5, 12, 19 and 26. More info here.


Tennent Mountain, next door to Black Balsam

We couldn’t find any Blue Moon Night Hikes scheduled for the mountains, which leads us to suggest a DIY night hike from one of the best and most accessible spots for wide-open sky viewing: Shining Rock, in the Pisgah National Forest.

The Shining Rock area is known for its high, open expanses, which you can reach quickly from the parking lot (which itself is reached quickly off the Blue Ridge Parkway). Our suggestion: from the Black Balsam Access parking lot, go just past the gate on the Ivestor Gap Trail, take the Art Loeb Spur, on your right, up a half mile or so to Black Balsam and an ocean of open sky.

Logistics: To get to the Black Balsam Parking area, exit the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 420, on FS 816. Drive about a mile to the Black Balsam Parking area. Follow the trail instructions above.

Friday night forecast: Clear, temperature in the low 70s.

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Looking ahead: Here’s the thing about signing up for a race early: pay the fee and there’s a much better chance you’ll train for the event. That said, registration for the Nov. 7 20-mile Shut In Ridge Trail Run opens Saturday. An especially good race to train for, since it gains 5,000 vertical feet on the way from the French Broad River to the base of Mount Pisgah on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Register 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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