This weekend: Celebrate your Outdoor Independence 


Volunteers work to clear trail at Vade Mecum.



Since this is a special weekend, extending to Wednesday for many of you, we’re throwing the 4th into the mix — and one of the best displays of brightness lighting up the sky that you’re likely to see: the Cosmos & Cocoa display on Bald Head Island.

Take advantage of Bald Head Island’s removed location and minimal nighttime light pollution to catch the night sky ablaze. “Use our sky charts and scopes to enhance your stargazing experience while viewing constellations and planets,” says the sponsoring Bald Head Island Conservancy.

Logistics: Cosmos & Cocoa, Tuesday, July 4, 8:30 p.m., Bald Head Island, $10 for BHI Conservancy members, $15 otherwise. More info and sign up here.

Tuesday evening forecast: Mostly clear skies with a temperature around 80 in the evening.

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Looking ahead: Sharks Tooth Island Full Moon Kayak Trip, Aug. 7, Halyburton Park, Wilmington. More info here.

Light show at Bald Head Island (photo courtesy Bald Head Island Conservancy)


The first weekend of every month, something special happens at Hanging Rock State Park:

Vade Mecum!

Yes, it sounds ominous. Like vampires emerge to handle things if you aren’t out of the park by closing. Rather, it’s an opportunity — to explore the trail network that became part of the park in 2014 when the 716-acre former Camp Sertoma 4-H Education Center — also known as Vade Mecum Springs — became part of Hanging Rock. Until the land is fully incorporated into the park, the 5-mile-or-so trail network only opens on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month — which would be this weekend.

Check in at the former lodge for maps and directions; hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Logistics: Saturday and Sunday, July 1 and 2, 9 a.m. To 5 p.m., Trails Open at Vade Mecum, Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury. More info here.

Weekend forecast: highs both days around 90, chance of thunderstorms Saturday.

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Looking ahead: Beginner Canoe Paddle Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, Seven Springs, Aug. 1, 2 p.m. More info here.


No fishing license? No problem on Independence Day.

In North Carolina, you don’t need a license to fish in your county of residence. Elsewhere, you do, except on July 4, when the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission says you can fish on all public waters, from the salt water of the Atlantic to the clear mountain streams of the high country. We highlight the mountains because of the trout opportunities — brook, brown, rainbow — in these higher, cooler waters.

Logistics: License-free fishing, from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, July 4. For more info, go here.

Tuesday forecast: Mostly sunny, highs in the 80s.

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Looking ahead: Moonlight Paddle, New River State Park, Laurel Springs, Aug. 4, 9 p.m. 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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