Your weekend: Scout an ultra or hike a hike

Sometimes you’re intrigued by an ambitious goal — a marathon, for instance, or triathlon —  but are hesitant to commit. If only you could see it in action first … . Well, if you’ve been intrigued by the idea of an ultra — a footrace longer than a marathon — then head to Bald Island this weekend and check out the Third Annual Badwater Cape Fear, where runners will be doing either a 50K or 51.4-mile run, most of it along the lonely coastline between Cape Fear and Fort Fisher.

If you aren’t intrigued, then check out a nature hike at Lake Norman or hike Grandfather Mountain, where the temperature will only hit a spring-defying (spring starts Sunday, btw) 36 — and it might snow!

3156Coast: Third Annual Badwater Cape Fear

Founders of this 50k / 51.4 mile (runner’s choice) ultra call this “the world’s toughest footrace.” It begins with a 12-mile warm-up on the scenic roads of Bald Head Island, and finishes with either 19 or 39 miles running along the remote sandy coast that runs between Cape Fear and Fort Fisher. The event attracts runners from all over the U.S. and Canada, organizers say, because of it’s southern charm and exquisite natural setting. The race is part of the eight-race Badwater series.

Registration has closed for this year, and 2017 will be opening soon. In the meantime, come out and enjoy Southport, Wilmington and the other coastal towns nearby while cheering on the souls who are racing — and get a feel for whether Badwater should be on your agenda for 2017.

Saturday forecast: high of 66 with a chance of showers

Vital Stats: Saturday, March 19, Bald Head Island, put on by Badwater. Details here.

Looking ahead: Millpond Day 5K Family Fun Run/Walk, Saturday, April 30, Merchants Millpond State Park. More info:, or 252.357.1191

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Piedmont: Lake Norman Discovery Hike

Lake Norman State Park 3Join a ranger on a one-mile hike through the life-filled woodlands that surround the Dragonfly and Alder trails at Lake Norman State Park. During the walk hikers will “discover” the plants and animals that are starting to become active once again after the winter months. Hikers will have the opportunity for scenic overlooks. Meet in the Lake Norman State Park Visitors Center at 2 p.m.

Saturday forecast: High of 59 and chance of showers

Vital stats: Saturday, March 19, Lake Norman State Park, 759 State Park Road, Troutman, NC. Contact 704.528.6350 or for more information. Read more here.

Looking ahead: Volunteer Trail Work Day at Crowders Mountain State Park, Saturday, April 9, 8 a.m. Contact info and more information here.

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Mountains: Guided Centennial Hike at Grandfather Mountain

A snowy Grandfather Mountain (photo courtesy
A snowy Grandfather Mountain (photo courtesy

Come out to Grandfather Mountain State Park Sunday to take part in a leisurely, guided hike that counts toward the Centennial Challenge. The hike will take about 2.5 hours and is 2-3 miles long. Dress appropriately for weather (see forecast below), and come prepared with water and snacks.

Sunday forecast: Spring may stat Sunday, but in Banner Elk the high will only be 36, and snow showers are predicted.

Vital Stats: Sunday, March 20, 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Contact: or 828.963.9522.

Looking ahead:: U.S. Open Slalom & Downriver, March 26-27, Nantahala Outdoor Center, Wesser. 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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