Your weekend: Paddle, run, learn 

The standup paddlers takes to the chilly waters of the Intracoastal Waterway, runners take to the trails of the National Whitewater Center, and nature lovers learn a thing or two at Grandfather Mountain. There may be a little rain in the forecast, but that’s no reason to stay inside on an active North Carolina weekend.


Think of it as a race and go for the cash prizes, think of it as a tour and get a wintry view of Wrightsville Beach by water.

It’s time again for the Cold Stroke Classic out of the Blockade Runner at Wrightsville Beach. The race begins on the protected waters behind the beachfront Blockade Runner and takes a meandering loop on the Intracoastal Waterway. The Short Course is one lap, the Long, two. There’s a $1,250 cash purse for the Long course, $5,000 in prizes for both the Long and Short. And, this year they’ve added a Run What You Bring (shouldn’t it be “Brung”?) category: “ … surfskis, outrigger canoes, unlimited paddleboards, kayaks, etc. If you can paddle it, you can race it.” Water temperature as of Thursday morning: 54 degrees.

Logistics: Ninth Annual Cold Stroke Classic, Saturday, 10 a.m., Blockade Runner, Wrightsville Beach, $55 Short Course ($25 kids), $75 Long ($25). More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 67, storms developing in the afternoon.

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Looking ahead: N.C. Birding Trail Hike, Feb. 16, Halyburton Park, Wilmington. More info here.


A rare “easy” trail at the NWC

If you’re a runner, it’s nice to establish a baseline at the beginning of the year (translation: your times can only get better from here). We can’t think of a better place to start than the Charlotte Running Company Trail Race Saturday at the National Whitewater Center. Haven’t been running much? Do the 4-mile race. Gotten the year off to a pretty good start, training-wise? Perhaps you’re up to the task of the 9-miler. Feeling particularly bold? There’s a 13-mile option as well. All on the well-groomed, nicely rolling trails at the whitewater center.

Logistics: Charlotte Running Company Trail Race, Saturday, 9 a.m., National Whitewater Center, Charlotte, $50, $55, $65. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 66, 13 percent chance of rain at race time.

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Looking ahead: Cupid’s Undie Run, Saturday, Feb. 11, Uptown Charlotte. More info here.


Profile Trail

It’s one thing to ID a tree by its distinctive leaves, quite another to identify it by its more subtle bark and limb patterns. That’s why we recommend you head to Grandfather Mountain State Park Sunday for its Winter Tree ID Hike on the Profile Trail. “Participants will learn how to identify local trees without the aid of leaves by learning differences in bark, limb, bud and branching patterns.”

Expect to hike a mile and a half over about two hours.

Logistics: Winter Tree ID Hike, Sunday, 1-3 p.m., Profile Trail, Grandfather Mountain State Park. More info here.

Sunday forecast: High of 52, pretty good chance of rain.

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Looking ahead: Winter Boat Tour, Feb. 4, Lake James State Park, Nemo. 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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