This weekend: Polar Plunge, History Hike, Nature Hike

Is this the weekend you take your first dip of 2017 in the Atlantic? Perhaps you’re more interested in a hike into history. Or maybe it’s when you take a class and learn not to bark up the wrong tree (so to speak).


A previous Plunge

Did you miss the chance to jump into an icy pool — the classic polar plunge — on New Year’s Day? Do you feel your year isn’t off until an official start until you’ve had the wake-up call that only baptism in 55-degree water can confer?

If so, head to Kure Beach Saturday for their 11th Run-N-Plunge at the Kure Beach Pier. Live music by the Prime Time Band, silent auction, costume contest, art, food, and more. Proceeds benefit Special Olympics New Hanover County. And to warm up, there’s also a 5K and 1-mile fun walk. (And yes, the temperature of the Atlantic at Kure Beach is currently 55 degrees.)

Logistics: 11th Annual Polar Plunge, 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run, Saturday, Feb. 11, 11 a.m., Kure Beach Pier. More info and to register, here.

Saturday forecast: Sunny with a high of 60 at plunge time.

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Looking ahead: BNP Trail Jam (3.5-mile, 9-mile and 18-mile races), Saturday, Feb. 18, Brunswick Nature Park, Wilmington. More info here.


The Pump Station area is also a good place to catch the early signs of spring, including daffodils planted by farmers years ago.

Like a little history on your hikes? Then join the Eno River Association this Sunday on its weekly Winter Hike Series. Each week, the hike visits a separate section of the Eno River Valley: this week, it’s the Pump Station Area, home to Durham’s first public drinking water source. Much of the brick structure remains, which makes for some great exploring. Adds the ERA: “Portions of the hike will be off-trail, some sections may be steep, muddy, or on rough terrain. you may want a walking stick, and sturdy shoes are a must.”

The hike will cover about 1.5 miles and last two hours.

Logistics: Eno River Association Winter Hike Series: Pump Station Trail, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2 p.m., Eno River State Park, Pump Station Access off Rivermont Road. Learn more here.

Sunday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 78!

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Looking ahead: Polar Plunge Splash-n-Dash, Saturday, Feb. 18, Randolph-Asheboro YMCA, Asheboro. More info here.


Deeply veined bark … sourwood!

Can’t tell an oak from an ironwood in winter. Leaves do make a difference, but so do bark, limb, bud and branching pattern. Learn to read the more subtle signs that identify our trees on a Winter Tree ID Hike Sunday at 1 p.m. At Grandfather Mountain State Park. Specifically, the hike will cover the lower reaches of Grandfather Mountain, departing from the Profile Trail parking lot and stick to the lower reaches of the mountain.

The hike will cover 2 miles and last about two hours.

Logistics: Winter Tree ID Hike, Sunday, Feb. 12, 1 p.m., Grandfather Mountain State Park, Banner Elk. More info here.

Sunday forecast: High of 61, chance of rain.

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Looking ahead: National Trails Day Hike to Mt. Craig, Saturday, June 3, 11 a.m., Mount Mitchell State Park. More info here.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below. 

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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