Weekend: Cool paddles, cool hike

Explore Bald Head Island at the coast, explore your relationship in Piedmont. Or, explore the lofty — and cooler — air on a hike in the higher country.


Photo courtesy bydianedaniel.com
Photo courtesy bydianedaniel.com

To many of us, Bald Head Island, the southernmost barrier island before the Cape Fear concedes to the Atlantic, is a mystery. You catch a glimpse as the ferry heads from Southport to Fort Fisher, you stand on the sand at Caswell Beach peering across the water, curious. Maybe you’ve taken the ferry over, but that tells only part of the story.

Get the full story Saturday when the Bald Head Island Conservancy leads a two-hour kayak trip of the creeks weaving in, out and about the island. A naturalist leads the trip, explaining the role barrier islands in general, and BHI in particular, play in the ecological scheme of things.

Logistics: Saturday, July 25, 3-5 p.m., Village Creek Access, Bald Head Island. $55, includes boat, pfd and and paddle ($40 for members of the conservancy). More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 89, sunny.

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Looking ahead: Blue Moon Kayaking Adventure, Friday, July 31, 5-9 p.m., River Road Park, Wilmington. More info here.

photo courtesy bydianedaniel.wordpress.com


Lake Tillery, looking toward Sugarloaf Mountain (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)

Anyone can get in a kayak and go straight: save for your whitewater playboats, most kayaks are built for direct travel. Ah, but put two people in a canoe and let the challenge begin.

If you’re in a fledgling relationship and want a true sense of where it’s headed, enroll yourself and your sweetie in Saturday’s Introduction to Canoeing program on Lake Tillery at Morrow Mountain State Park. You bring a bottle of water, clothes you don’t mind getting wet, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat, the park will provide the canoe, paddle and pfd. Bring your patience as well.

Logistics: Saturday, July 25, 9-11 a.m., Morrow Mountain State Park, Albemarle. Free, but preregistration is required, by calling 704.984.6160.

Saturday forecast: High of 93, sunny.

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Looking ahead: Sunset Canoe Trip, Friday, Aug. 14, 7–9 p.m., Lake Crabtree County Park. $5 per person or $10/canoe. More info by calling 919.460.3390.


View from Mount Jefferson (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)
View from Mount Jefferson (photo courtesy North Carolina State Parks)

If you’re like us, you’ve spent most of the summer trying to dodge the heat. Here’s a dodge for this weekend: Go hiking at Mount Jefferson State Natural Area.

Mount Jefferson rises to nearly 4,700 feet near the town of West Jefferson. As a result, it’s lofty height escapes the heat of the valley floor and catches a nice breeze to further the cooling effect. That effect should be in full effect Saturday at 10 a.m. for the park’s ranger-led Nature Hike on the Rhododendron Trail.

Logistics: Saturday, July 25, 10 a.m., Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, http://ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/moje/main.php West Jefferson. More info by calling 336.246.9653.

Saturday forecast: High of 80, chance of thunderstorms.

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Looking ahead: Cycle North Carolina Mountain Ride, August 1-2, rides depart from Lake Lure. More info 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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