This weekend: Free ride? 

Milky Way (photo courtesy NASA)

Weird weather (Friday snow in the mountains?) precedes a mellow, springlike weekend. A weekend good for so many adventures, from heeding the advice of Edgar Winter and taking a free ride to gazing into the night sky.


A satellite view of the eastern seaboard at night is startling not so much for the artificial light that illuminates the region, but for the one spot that remains dark: far eastern North Carolina. A blink here and there, but mostly darkness. One night around 11, lying on a gravel road just outside Columbia, we saw the Milky Way with nearly the clarity I’d seen it years earlier camping at 9,000 feet in the Rockies.

Which is why Saturday evening’s Night Skies at Pettigrew State Park program is so appealing. Members of the Tar River Astronomy Club, with telescopes in tow, will be on hand to help decipher the brilliant night sky (with only a quarter moon’s worth of light to contend with).

Logistics: Night Skies at Pettigrew State Park, Saturday, April 8, 7-10 p.m. Columbia. Free, but preregistration is requested, by calling 252.797.4475.

Saturday forecast: Clear skies, event-time temperature around 50, so don a wrap.

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Looking ahead: Flight of the American Woodcock, Saturday, April 29, New River State Park, Laurel Springs. More info here.


Sweet! (photo courtesy mtbr review)

We once heard someone refer to a bike demo as “cheap fun.”


To the uninitiated, a bike demo occurs when a local bike shop teams with one of its bike suppliers to bring in a fleet of demo bikes for folks to take a free ride. “Free” my saddle sores! You take one lap on a bike so superior to yours that you can no longer call what you’ve been doing as “riding” and you wind up the day $3,000 poorer. But with a new bike!

Think it can’t happen to you? Then we invite you to check out Galactic Bikes of Greensboro’s Pivot Cycles Bike Demo Saturday at Country Park. Bring your kit, helmet and shoes (and pedals) — and your checkbook, if you dare!

Logistics: Pivot Cycles Demo Day, Saturday, April 8, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Country Park, Greensboro. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Sunny with a high of 67.

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Looking ahead: Moonshine Still Hike, Sunday, April 23, Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap. More info here.


Another good excuse to visit Black Mountain: Saturday’s Black Mountain Greenway Challenge. The Challenge comes in two sizes — 5K and 10K — and celebrates the town’s greenway system with a run to and around Lake Tomahawk.

The Black Mountain News tells us the race is in its 10th year, and that the town’s greenway ”is now part of a much larger system, known as the Fonta Flora State Trail. That trail will one day connect Morganton to Asheville.” Cool!

In the meantime, we can think of few places we’d rather run than in Black Mountain (especially in a race in which the Pisgah Brewing Company is an active participant).

Logistics: Black Mountain Greenway Challenge, Saturday, April 8, 2 p.m., Black Mountain. $35 for the 5K, $40 for the 10K. More info and register here.

Saturday’s forecast: Mostly sunny with a race-time temperature of 57.

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Looking ahead: 3rd Annual Gateway to the Smokies Half Marathon, Saturday, May 6, Paynesville. 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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