This weekend: Labor Day is past, let the festivities of fall begin

The passage of Labor Day means the crowds are starting to thin from the coast, making it safe to go back in the water. Meanwhile, while the calendar may say fall is officially a couple weeks off, Labor Day signals, to us, the start of the fall hiking season. We’ve got great options for the latter in both the Piedmont and mountains.


10923448_932355180118920_3610891445064788525_nAh, that first post-Labor Day weekend at the coast, when the crowds have thinned and it’s safe to go back in the water. For, say, a bit of competitive standup paddle boarding!

Sunday is the Second Annual Carolina Beach SUP Challenge benefiting Ocean Cure, a non-profit that provides free surf camps and lessons to medically-fragile at-risk youth and adults. The Challenge includes two races — 3 and 6 miles — on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Been paddling for a while and like a good challenge? Race organizers say this event is for you you. New to SUPing? Again, grab your board and paddle and come on down. Really new to the sport? There’s a 1-mile Family Fun Race in which pets are encouraged to participate. (Pets? We can see a dog digging the surf scene, but a cat? A ferret?)

Logistics: Sunday, Sept. 13, 8 a.m., Carolina Beach Yacht Basin and Marina, 216 Canal Dr., Carolina Beach. $25. More info here.

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

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Looking ahead: Curious about the coastal environment? On Sept. 25 join UNC Wilmington faculty from the departments of biology, marine biology, geology and geography for a Campus Nature Tour. More info here.


Horton Grove
Horton Grove

Fall means the return of hiking to the Piedmont, and our GetHiking! crew is rarin’ to go.

Saturday at 1 p.m., we’ll hike a section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake, from the Upper Barton Creek boat ramp to NC 98 and back. We’ll hike 2.1 miles out, 2.1 miles back, through a rolling riparian woodland. At the turnaround is one of the biggest white oak trees around. For a preview, check out this description of the hike on the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail website.

Sunday at 1 p.m., we’ll head to northern Durham County to explore the 708-acre Horton Grove Nature Preserve. Here, the Triangle Land Conservancy has built eight miles of trail exploring bottomland forest, mature hardwood forest, deep ravines and Piedmont prairie. Our hike will cover about five miles.

Logistics: For more information on both hikes and to sign up, visit our GetHiking! Triangle Meetup site.

Weekend forecast: Saturday, high of 83 with a chance of thunderstorms; Sunday, high of 78 and mostly sunny.

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Looking ahead: Take a Child Outside Week commences the week of Sept. 21. Find a rundown of TACO happenings at your local state park, here.


You could be bundled up for Saturday's hike like this group was for a late June hike in the Black Mountains.
You could be bundled up for Saturday’s hike like this group was for a late June hike in the Black Mountains.

Again, the passage of Labor Day signals the start of the fall hiking season, to us, at least. The prospect of hiking in a light fleece only heightens our three Es (enthusiasm, excitement, expectations).

That could be the case Saturday when the Carolina Mountain Club hikes a 6.4-mile stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in the high mountains just south of Mount Mitchell (at 6,684 feet the highest point along the East Coast, in case you’re new to the region). This stretch of trail runs through old-growth balsam and spruce forests, with several scenic overlooks along the way.

And that fleece? You’ll want to pack it (and a rain suit, just in case) after reading the forecast below.

Logistics: Saturday, Sept. 12, 10 a.m. (meeting time to shuttle from the Folk Art Center at Milepost 382. For more on the route, go here.

Sunday forecast: High in the mid 60s, chance of rain.

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Looking ahead: Tsali Adventure Triathlon, Oct. 3, featuring 3-mile paddle, 5-mile run, and 12-mile bike. Individual $45, team $95. Details 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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