GetOut! This weekend: a cool Saturday, a wet Sunday

Seems like every weekend of late we’re batting .500: either Saturday or Sunday looks good for an outing. 

This weekend it’s Saturday, with highs maybe reaching 50 under partly sunny skies. There’s rain in the forecast for Sunday, but possibly only in the first half of the day, depending upon where you live. So, for Saturday we suggest:

  • Hike with a Ranger, 11 a.m., Merchants Millpond State Park, Gatesville. Merchants Millpond, in the lush swampland of northeastern North Carolina, has maybe a month or so left before rising temperatures flush out the bitey, pesky flying critters that make coastal hiking a pain. Take advantage while you can with this 2-mile hike on the Coleman Trail, which rambles through bottomland woods and brushes up against the millpond. Bring binos, if you have them. Learn more here.
  • Prescribed burn in Panthertown Valley

    Benefits of Prescribed Burning, 2 p.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap. You read about prescribed burns being set in our state parks and national forests, but do you know why? Isn’t fire bad? Not always, especially in nature, where it plays a vital role in maintaining the health of the land. Come learn more about that role and tour a burn area from a year ago to witness that role in person on this ranger-led hike. Learn more here.

  • Stars and Planets, 5:45 p.m., Mayo River State Park, Mayodan. We love being in the woods after dark, and it won’t be long (Daylight Saving Time kicks in March 13) before we’ll have to stay out an hour later to do so. So take advantage of this program co-sponsored by the Greensboro Astronomy Club; club members will bring their telescopes to help you make sense of the night sky, a sky that, baring clouds, should reveal plenty under a near-new moon. Learn more here.

Also on Saturday:

Salamander Walk, 1 p.m., Lake Crabtree County Park, Morrisville. In addition to spring peepers serenading and the emergence of trout lilies, spring beauties and other wildflowers, another sign of spring is the emergence of salamanders. During this usually wet time of year temporary or ephemeral pools form in the woods. Because they’re temporary and can’t sustain a predatory fish population, salamanders use these pools to lay their eggs. And now’s the time of year those eggs begin to hatch. In this 2-hour program, you’ll look for egg masses in these pools as well as other signs of salamander activity. Free, but registration is required, but going here. 

On the off-chance it isn’t raining Sunday, here’s a program that sounds especially interesting:

Black History of the Hammocks, 2 p.m., Hammocks Beach State Park, Swansboro. The lands now included in our state parks typically have rich human history. That’s especially true at Hammocks Beach State Park, which includes Bear Island, a favorite haunt of New York neurosurgeon Dr. William Sharpe, who came there to hunt in the early 1900s. He wound up buying the island, and upon his death donated the island to the N.C. Teachers Association, an organization of African American teachers, in 1950. What happened next? You’ll have to attend the event to find out (or click here.) Learn more about this event at the Visitor Center here.

That’s what we know for the weekend, just enough to get you thinking about how you plan to GetOut! And enjoy.

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Spring hikes

And if you’re planning a little further ahead, we just announced our spring lineup of hiking programs and trips, from weekly Sunday hikes to Tuesday Evening Hikes to weekend trips. Check out what we’l be up to — and how you can join us — here.

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