As we look ahead to the upcoming summer camping season, we look with special attention to certain campgrounds. Here are some of our favorites.
With 160 sites you’d think scoring one would be a given. Not the case at this popular campground which takes advantage of both its proximity to the cultural offerings of nearby Brevard and its perch at the base of the recreation-rich Pisgah National Forest.read more
Yes, good fall color remains in the Piedmont. And the weather — temperatures in the low 70s under mostly sunny skies — is looking pretty good for getting out and finding it. That’s our objective for the weekend with these recommendations. First, our three hike recommendations:read more
Consider the coming weekend as preparation for the winter ahead: high temperatures throughout much of the region won’t get out of the 40s. That makes it an opportune time to dig out your cold weather gear, see what works, see what needs replacing. Make good use of this test-run weekend and you’ll be ready for the winter months ahead!read more
This week’s offerings all come courtesy North Carolina State Parks, where on any given weekend (and on a lot of days throughout the week) you’ll find an array of interesting — and usually free — programs. Check out the State Parks curriculum here, and read on for suggestions on how you can live and learn in the great outdoors this weekend.
The Lumber River doesn’t get the attention it deserves for one simple reason: it’s not near any of the state’s major population areas. But time on the river is time well spent (especially in light of the no money spent).
Saturday, Lumber River State Park sponsors a guided canoe trip down the Lumber. It’s a two-hour float, originating from the Chalk Banks Access at 10:30 a.m. All gear — boat, paddles, pfds — are provided; you just need to bring water, snacks and plenty of sunscreen. And although it’s free, you need to reserve space in advance (see below).
Logistics: Saturday, June 21, 10:30 a.m., Lumber River State Park, Lumberton. 910.628.4564.
Just the other day we were talking about great places to paddle in the Piedmont and the Weaver Creek sub impoundment at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area came up. Main reason it’s better than the rest of Jordan Lake for paddlers? No power boats.
Main reason to paddle it Sunday? Jordan Lake Ranger Steve McMurray is leading canoe trip of the impoundment. Ranger McMurray’s enthusiasm is exceeded only by his knowledge of the area’s natural attributes. A trip with Ranger McMurray is time well spent with a paddle. And if you’ve ever wanted to see a bald eagle in person, paddling with Ranger McMurray usually does the trick.
Logistics: Sunday, 10 a.m., Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, Apex. All gear provided and it’s free, but you need to preregister to save a space: 919.362.0586, x-219.
Ever admire the work of the great plein air artists and wondered, “How do they do that?”
Sunday’s Painting the Mountain class at Mount Jefferson State Natural Area doesn’t promise to turn you into a Winslow Homer, but it does guarantee an hour of fun with tempera on canvas. And, again, the only investment required is your time.
Logistics: Sunday, June 22, 2 p.m., Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson. 336.246.9653 to reserve a spot.
Tired of the cold, wet and gray? This weekend promises at least a respite from our wearying winter. Plus, the outdoor adventurer’s old buddy, Daylight Savings Time, returns, gracing us with an extra hour of end-of-day daylight.
Get out and take advantage: You never know how long it will last.
This may be hard to believe because of our ongoing cold, but the time is rapidly running out for an enjoyable hike in a coastal wetlands. Once temperatures start climbing into the mid to upper 60s, all kinds of critters begin to emerge that can take some of the fun out of exploring a forested wetlands.
Thus, with temperatures expected to stay in the 50s Sunday, we suggest you check out the Wonder Wetlands hike at Merchants Millpond State Park near Gatesville. On this two-mile hike on established trail into a wild forest, a ranger will talk about the park’s wetlands and how they affect plants, animals and people. In addition, we recommend you get there two hours early, rent a canoe ($5 first hour, $3 every subsequent hour) and explore the millpond.
Logistics: Sunday, March 9, 3 p.m. Merchants Millpond State Park, Gatesville. Learn more about the park here, for more info on the hike, call 252.357.1191.
Running or biking on the American Tobacco Trail, we usually stop on the bridge section over White Oak Creek and contemplate the waterway’s path. Downstream, we know that the creek empties into Jordan Lake. But upstream, where exactly does the creek go? And how much farther can you paddle up it?
Find out the answer to these and other White Oak Creek questions Saturday, when Jordan Lake Ranger Steve McMurray leads a three-hour paddle up White Oak Creek. The trip commences from the Crosswinds Boat Ramp, paddles a stretch of open water on Jordan Lake, then probes White Oak Creek. Recommended for experienced paddlers only.
Logistics: Saturday, March 8, 1-4 p.m. Crosswinds Boat Ramp at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. For more information on Jordan Lake, go here, for information on the paddle trip and to register, call 919.362.0586, ext. 219.
DuPont State Forest between Hendersonville and Brevard has nearly 100 miles of trail, a sizable number for a tract of land just over 10,000 acres. With so many trails to choose from, picking a circuit can be a challenge, both from the standpoint of optimizing your scenic return and from the standpoint of suddenly realizing you have no idea where you are.
Good reasons to sign up for Sunday’s 12-mile hike sponsored by the Carolina Mountain Club. Attractions along the way: Lake Imaging, Grassy Falls, Thomas Cemetery, Wintergreen Falls, Stone Mountain and “the old firing range.” And because it’s the first day of Daylight Savings Time, you’ll have an extra hour of sunlight to savor the scenery.
Logistics: Sunday, March 9, 9 a.m. For more information and to register, contact hike leader Jan Onan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 828.698.3237. For more information on the route, go here.
* * *
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.
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of costal 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).