This weekend: Learn, churn 

Winter is a great time for learning a new skill (map and compass), marveling over mother nature (learning her mountaintop secrets), or testing your intestinal fortitude (the Krispy Kreme Challenge).

Mount Jefferson (photo courtesy Jason Barnette, Southeastern Traveler)

Coast | coastal plain

One of the most popular courses we offer through our Get! programs is GetOriented!, a three-hour class that gets explorers comfortable with map and compass and thus, more comfortable exploring the outdoors, especially on their own. So far, however, we only offer the course in the Triangle and the Triad. So when we find a good opportunity to feel more comfortable in the woods that’s outside our current range, we’re only too happy to share it with you.

Thus, our recommendation of Saturday’s Compass Course at Jones Lake State Park in Elizabeth town. You’ll learn basic map and compass skills, then head out into the park’s compass course to test those skills. Compasses provided.

Logistics: Compass Course, Saturday, Feb. 4, 10 a.m., Jones Lake State Park, Elizabethtown. More info and sign up (it’s free, but space is limited), here.

Saturday forecast: Sunny, high of 50.

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Looking ahead: Island Nature Tour, Sunday, Feb. 19, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m., Bald Head Island, Bald Head Island Conservancy. More into here.


Bring on the doughnuts!

We challenge ourselves in many ways: physically, mentally, emotionally, gastrointestinally. And sometimes, on rare occasion, we test ourselves in all four ways simultaneously.

Such is the case with the Krispy Kreme Challenge. As the promotional material for this iconic and wildly successful fundraiser benefitting the North Carolina Children’s Hospital (nearly $1.2 million has been raised over 11 years) succinctly puts it: “2400 calories, 12 doughnuts, 5 miles, 1 hour.” More specifically, run 2.5 miles from the Bell Tower at N.C. State to the Krispy Kreme on Peace Street, eat at down donuts, run back. Only those able to keep the dozen donuts onboard across the finish line are considered true “Challengers.”

Even if you don’t participate, it is a sight to behold (provided you don’t have a strong gag reflex).

Logistics: Krispy Kreme Challenge, Saturday, Feb. 4, 10 a.m., N.C. State University. $50. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 47.

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Looking ahead: Eno River Sunday Hikes, every Sunday through spring, 2 p.m. Various locations throughout the Eno River Valley. Find a calendar here.


It’s a cold, winter day where you live, a light rain falls. You wonder: What’s the weather like atop one of our mountains? How much colder is it? Is it snowing? Is it windy? Do I have the gear to survive.

Find the answer to these questions of summit climate and more Saturday, when a ranger leads you to the summit of 4,683-foot Mount Jefferson to examine the N.C. Climate Office data collection tower. You that tower has some great weather tales to tell; let the ranger act as your interpreter.

Logistics: Mount Jefferson Climate Tower Hike, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2 p.m., Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson. More info here.

Sunday forecast: High of 42, chance of rain.

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Looking ahead: Flight of the American Woodcock, Saturday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m., Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson. 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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