Your Weekend: Stalk a plant, learn the burn, eye the sky

It’s a good weekend to stalk carnivorous plants in a coastal forest, to learn what we’re doing — and what more we can do — to save our animal friends, or, cloud cover permitting, to check out the night sky.

Coast: Carnivorous Plant Hike

WP.CoastCarolina Beach State Park offers its Carnivorous Plant Hike frequently, but when are you going to find a better weekend to finally take it? Forecast: High of 60 under sunny skies, the perfect weather for stalking carnivorous plants. Join a park ranger Sunday morning and learn about the native species to the area. You’ll have an opportunity to see the plants that truly do bite back: pitcher plants, the Venus flytrap, butterworts, and a few more..

Sunday forecast: 60 degrees and sunny at the beginning of the hike.

Vital Stats: Carolina Beach State Park, Sunday April 17, 11am, Nature Trail Lane Parking area. Contact 910.458.7770 or More info here.

Looking ahead: Paddle for the Border, 7.5-mile journey between Dismal Swamp State Park and North River park in Chesapeake, Va., where participants will cross the state line. Registration fills quickly! Dismal Swamp State Park, April 30. More information here.

Piedmont: Sustainability Salon: “Hope for Animals and Their World”

Prescribed burn in Panthertown Valley
Prescribed burn in Panthertown Valley

The Carolina Raptor Center tonight hosts Thane Maynard, who, among his other accomplishments, co-authored a book with Jane Goodall, to come discuss what we’ve done to support animal conservation. He will also talk about the small steps we can take each day, such as riding your bike to work, to save the earth’s resources. There will be a book signing at the end of the event, and a cash bar from 7:30-9 p.m.

Tonight’s forecast: Starting out at 63 degrees, and getting down to about 55 by the end of the event. Projected to be partly cloudy with light winds.

Vital Stats: Presented by Carolina Raptor Center, Sunday,, 7-9:30 p.m, Mint Museum, Charlotte. $15 for CRC members, $20 non-members, $10 students. More information here.

Bonus Piedmont event: Where there’s Smoke…

What Smoky the Bear doesn’t tell you, is that forest fires aren’t always a bad thing. Come to Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area in Hillsborough Sunday and take a 1-mile hike along a trail where there was a recent prescribed burn. You’ll learn about fire ecology and why fires are sometimes lit in North Carolina forests on purpose. (Good hiking shoes are a must.) More information here.

Sunday forecast: High of 61 degrees, low of 41 and mostly sunny.

Vital Stats: Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough, Sunday, 10:30 a.m, meet in the Occoneechee parking lot. Contact 919.383.1686 or for more information.

Looking ahead: Occoneechee Geology Hike, learn about the mountain’s geologic wonders with a real geologist. Limited to 25 participants, Saturday April 23, 2pm. More info here.

Mountains: Astronomy for Everyone

Lake James State Park co-hosts a night of star gazing Saturday with the Catawba Valley Astronomy Club. Join them for an educational night of star gazing, where you can learn astronomy tips and create your own star chart. Telescopes and binoculars provided, but feel free to bring your own, as well as a chair for relaxing. Meet in the upper parking lot of the Paddy’s Creek Area at 8 p.m.

Saturday evening forecast: 60 degrees at the start of the event, a low of 47 that night.

Vital Stats: Register by calling the park office at 828.584.7728, Lake James State Park, Nebo, Saturday, 8 p.m.

Looking ahead: 2016 Annual Wildflower Walks at Grandfather Mountain State Park. Join a ranger on a variety of different paths to enjoy the wildflower display, which changes from week to week. Next hike: Sunday, May 1, 9 a.m. 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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