Weekend Plans: Snowshoeing? In the Southern Appalachians!?

So much snow fell in the mountains last weekend — including a record 66 inches at Mount Mitchell — that not only is it now possible to snowshoe in the the Southern Apps, in some places it’s the only way to get around. Take advantage of this windfall snowfall on guided trips this weekend at Grandfather Mountain State Park.

Had enough of the snow and ice? Then grab a beer and a brat and go for a run in Fayetteville. Or explore the rock of the raven along the mighty Cape Fear.

Mountains: Snowshoe Hike at Grandfather Mountain State Park

Photo courtesy Asheville Citizen-Times
Photo courtesy Asheville Citizen-Times

Yes, you read that right, this weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, you can try walking on snow!

Grandfather Mountain State Park rangers have decided to offer a new kind of winter sport. Snowshoes will be available, but if you have your own, bring ’em along! Snowshoe hiking is different from regular hiking; expect to burn more energy as it’s a bit like walking on sand at the beach. Don’t let that deter you, however, as the hike is only two miles, with hardly any elevation gain. Park rangers say that it should be okay for any skill level and age! (That said, snowshoes may not fit hikers under the age of 13.)

If there is not enough snow (the park received 14 inches out of last weekend’s storm), a program on Winter Weather Hiking will be held instead in the same location. Additional snowshoe hikes will be held Feb. 12, 13, 26, and 27.

Vital Stats: Snowshoe Hike at Grandfather Mountain State Park, Linville, 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; meet Ranger Andy Sicard at the Boone Fork Parking Lot, Milepost 299.9 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Free. More information: grandfather.mountain@ncparks.gov, 828.963.9522.

Weekend forecast: Saturday, 43 degrees with wind at 8 mph around 2 p.m.; Sunday, 47 degrees with wind at 7 mph around 2 p.m.

Looking ahead: Totally ‘80s Retro Ski Weekend at Beech Mountain, Feb.18-21
More info here.

Piedmont: Hike to Raven Rock

A ranger tells the story of the rock, at Raven Rock
A ranger tells the story of the rock, at Raven Rock (photo courtesy ncparks.gov)

Did you know Raven Rock near Lillington was originally named Patterson’s Rock after an early settler who took refuge there when his canoe capsized? The name was changed to Raven Rock in 1854, due to the ravens that used to roost on the rock ledges.

This Sunday, join a park ranger on a 2.2-mile hike to learn even more about the cultural and natural history of the area. Maybe you can even surprise the ranger with the knowledge you (might have) just learned! The hike will take about two hours and start at the picnic shelter.

Vital Stats: Hike to Raven Rock, Raven Rock State Park, Lillington, Sunday, 10 a.m. to noon. Free. More info: raven.rock@ncparks.go, 910.893.4888.

Sunday forecast: The hike will begin at about 51 degrees, and finish with temperatures close to 62 degrees. Don’t forget a water bottle!

Looking ahead: Krispy Kreme Challenge, Feb. 6, Raleigh. More info here.

Coast: Boomerang Beer and Brat Fun Run (5k/1 mile runs)

WP.coastYes there will be beer for runners over 21 at Saturday’s race at Fayetteville’s Crown Coliseum. There will even be FREE beer for teams of 6 or more! The race starts with a beer, involves eating a foot-long brat along the way, ends with another beer. You can choose between a 5K or 1 mile.

Racers are encouraged to dress in costume, a costume they can swap with other runners along the way. At the finish, there will be a costume contest, a dance off, and bratwurst eating competition. Not yet 21? Not a fan of beer or brats? There will also be vegetables!

Individuals or teams who bring the most non-perishable food items and diapers for a local food bank receive 10 free race entries for June events!

Vital Stats: Boomerang Beer and Brat Fun Run, Saturday, Jan. 30, 1 p.m., Crown Coliseum. $40. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Sunny! About 58 degrees at time of race.

Looking ahead: Coastal Culture and Waterfowl Watching Trip, Feb. 3. 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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