This weekend: Saturday, rather than Sunday 

Go, kids, go!

Saturday sees a return to seasonable temperatures and sun, suitable for a day of adventure. Sunday … not so much. Unless you’re going skiing, check out our Saturday recommendations.


One of the big struggles of modern parenting is motivating our kids to move. Back in the day, it was no problem: you could stay inside and watch one of the four channels (three of which were airing mom’s soaps) on the Zenith, or you could go outside and get into mischief. Nearly all of us went the mischief route.

Today, there are so many more reasons not to get into outdoor mischief, thanks to our assorted electronic devices. It’s so easy to spend the day getting lost in a world of faux mischief that, shoot, who has time for the real thing?

We’re guessing that a bit of history in the making in the Wilmington area this weekend could change that for your brood. Saturday and Sunday, at Brunswick Nature Park in Leland, the fledgling N.C. Interscholastic Cycling League will hold its first-ever mountain bike race. Twenty-five teams from across the state are expected to compete on the five-mile network, kids in grades 6 through 12, some competing on school teams, some on “composite” teams made up of kids from various schools, including home schoolers.

Bring your kids, watch the action. Worried about your kid getting hooked on a sport you can’t afford? Don’t be. The NCICL offers scholarships to riders in need, and has alliances in the bike industry (take a bow, Trek) that can help make mountain biking affordable. Remember how transformative it was to tool around the neighborhood on your BMX bike as a kid? Imagine that feeling amplified riding through the woods.

Logistics: Race 1: N.C. Interscholastic Cycling League, Saturday and Sunday, March 11-12, New Brunswick Nature Park, Winnabow (which is near Leland, which is outside Wilmington). More info here.

Weekend forecast: Sunny and 55 on Saturday, rainy and 55 on Sunday.

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

Hiking through a controlled burn at Pilot Mountain


Last fall’s wild fires in the mountains raised questions about the devastating effect they would have on the places we love to visit: Chimney Rock, South Mountains State Park, parts of the Nantahala.

True, fires of this magnitude can have devastating consequences. But fire in its natural place is vital for the forest, crucial, in fact, to the forest’s health. Certain flora rely on periodic fires to reproduce, certain fauna rely on it to replenish their food supplies. The role of fire is complex.

Saturday, though, you can start making sense of the role fire plays on the Fire Ecology Hike at Pilot Mountain State Park. There, controlled burns have been employed to replicate the natural order of burns; join a ranger to understand how this seemingly contradictory situation — fire breeding life — works.

Logistics: Fire Ecology Hike, Saturday, March 11, 2 p.m., Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 49.

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Looking ahead: First Day of Spring Hike, Monday, March 20, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. More info here.

Photo courtesy ski


If you haven’t made it to the mountains to ski yet this winter and had doubts that you’d be able to in light of the warm weather of late, the weather gods have issued a reprieve. Cold weather and snow return to the mountains starting Saturday and lasting into midweek, making mid-March skiing a reality. That is, for those resorts that choose to capitalize on the returning cold and crank up their snow machines.

At this point, say our friends at, only Snowshoe, Appalachian and Sugar Mountain appear committed to more snowmaking this late in the season. Keep your dial tuned to the aforementioned for the latest details on who’s blowing how much snow where.

Logistics: Get the latest ski report at

Weekend forecast: Cold, with snow possible.

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Looking ahead: Flight of the American Woodcock, Saturday, March 18, New River State Park. 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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