This weekend: Cool spring lingers (but for much longer?)

Orchard at Altapass

Take advantage of yet another cool spring weekend with a fitness challenge at the coast, a Mother’s Day hike in the Piedmont, and what may be the most ideal first hike ever offered.


You think of firefighters, you think of folks in pretty darn good shape. So who better to stage a fitness challenge?

Saturday, the Wilmington Professional Firefighter’s Association holds its Second Annual Charity Firefighter’s Fitness Challenge. Wondering what types of challenges the Challenge entails? “A multi-stage combination of high intensity cross-training exercises inspired by the physical demands of being a firefighter.” (If it helps, the event poster shows folks hoisting a barbell and flipping big tires.) Competition is by team, in the male, female and coed categories.

If you’re really into a challenge, there’s a 4.5-mile run before The Challenge: you can do either or both.

Logistics: Second Annual Wilmington Professional Firefighter’s Fitness Challenge & Run, Saturday, May 13, Greenfield Lake Amphitheater Park, Wilmington. $150 per team. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 78 with a chance of thunderstorms.

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Looking ahead: Fort Fisher Kayak Trip, July 7, Halyburton Park, Wilmington. More info here.


The spring season of Sunday afternoon hikes by the Eno River Association is winding down — all the more reason to catch the ERA’s Mother’s Day Hike this Sunday at Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area in Hillsborough. At 867 feet, Occoneechee is the highest point in the Triangle. It includes five separate ecozones; curiously, the most mountain-like — rhododendron, mountain laurel (now in bloom), galax — is at the bottom of the mountain. The hike will be on the Occoneechee Mountain Loop and Chestnut Oak Trails.

Logistics: Eno River Association Mother’s Day Hike, Sunday, May 14, 2 p.m., Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough. More info here.

Sunday forecast: Sunny with a high of 78.

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Looking ahead: The last hike in the Eno River Association’s Spring Series is June 3, National Trails Day, on the Bobbitt Hole Trail at Eno River State Park. More info here.

Occoneechee Mountain


A dilemma: you love the idea of hiking, but only in the mountains — waterfalls, vistas, other carrots, you know — where the trails tend to be more challenging. You don’t want your first hike to be too long or too hard. You just want it to be gorgeous and memorable. Boy, do you ever ask a lot!

Fortunately, our Hike NC! affiliate is here to help. Saturday, join Christy Thrift and her team from Thrifty Adventures on a 2-mile hike at the Orchard at Altapass just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Spruce Pine. The hike is on a gently graded trail that weaves through an apple orchard. At the midpoint, the hike will pause to do some breath work (exertion and altitude, you know). The hike finishes back at the start with yoga lead by a certified yoga instructor (which will help resolve any stiffness and soreness).

It is the perfect way for a beginner to ease into hiking.

Logistics: Hike & Yoga at The Orchard at Altapass, Saturday, May 13, 10 a.m., Spruce Pine. More info and sign up, here.

Sunday forecast: Sunny with a high of 71.

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Looking ahead: Pisgah National Forest: Lower Douglas Falls Trail Hike, Asheville area, June 3. 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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