Tag Archives: snakes

This weekend: Get out and learn a thing or two

Mount Mitchell: the top of the East Coast

Moving is good. Learning something while you’re on the move is even better. This weekend is a good one for learning on the move.


For many, the key to getting active is to resist the urge to overindulge at the start and expect immediate results. That’s why so many New Year’s resolutions go kaput before January is over: you expect to become Charles (or Charlene) Atlas in just two weeks.

That’s why we like events such as Saturday’s =&1=& in Wilmington. On this hour-and-a-half walk you’ll take a leisurely pace through the historic Forest Hills section of Wilmington, learning about “architecture and landscape design within the neighborhood, highlighting the economic, social, and community development. These tours bring attention to the special qualities of the neighborhoods and how they contribute to the city’s quality of life.”

Learning and moving. Pretty good combination.

Logistics: Guided Walking Tour of Forest Hills, Saturday, July 15, 10 a.m., Wilmington. $10. Pre-registration required, by calling 910.762.2511.

Saturday forecast: 86 and mostly sunny at walk time.

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Looking ahead: Can’t make Sunday’s walk? It repeats on July 29. More info here.


Conquering our fears: that’s part of why we go outside. We hike at night to get past fearing a dark forest. We go off trail — with map and compass — to explore the less-visited and feel more comfortable navigating the woods. We embrace water crossings as refreshing rather than reject them for the possibility of getting wet.

And yet, we remain fearful of snakes. All snakes.

Sunday, take the first step toward getting past your ophidiophobia by attending =&3=& At Pilot Mountain State Park. Learn how to identify snakes (including the venomous ones), learn about their lives. Learn to appreciate them as one of one of your incentives for heading outdoors.

Logistics: Snakes!, Sunday, July 16, 10 a.m., Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle. More information here.

Saturday forecast: 78 and sunny at event time.

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Looking ahead: Canoe the Yadkin, Thursday, July 27, 10 a.m., Yadkin River Access of Pilot Mountain State Park. More info here.


Hiking in the spruce and pine forests at North Carolina’s highest elevations is like hiking in a different world. Or Canada. If you’re accustomed to the ecozones of the lower Southern Appalachian hardwood forests, you likely find yourself asking, like a confused tourist, “What the heck is that?

Find out “what the heck” on Sunday’s =&5=& hike at Mount Mitchell State Park. “Join a ranger to understand why the Black Mountain Range and Mt. Mitchell are so unique in North Carolina in terms of its ecology and wildlife,” says the hike description. Then, take a few minutes to head north on the Black Mountain Crest Trail to put your newfound knowledge to work identifying this curious land of boreal delights.

Logistics: High Elevation Peaks, Sunday, July 16, 2 p.m., Mount Mitchell State Park, Burnsville. More info here.

Sunday forecast: 64 degrees under sunny skies.

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Looking ahead: Balsam Nature Trail Guided Hike, Sunday, Sept. 10, Mount Mitchell State Park, Burnsville. More info here.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below. 

Looking ahead: Can’t make Saturday morning’s Build-a-Boat? The event repeats Saturday, July 29 at noon. More info here.


D’ja ever wonder about the weather on top of a mountain? About the highest wind gusts ever recorded? Lowest temperature? Most snow?

Likewise, who hasn’t wondered how they record that information? Saturday is your chance to have these questions answered at Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. Setting out from the picnic area, you’ll make the short clime to MJ’s 4,683-foot summit, home to a North Carolina Climate Office data collection tower, where the mountain will reveal her climatological secrets during the Mount Jefferson’s Climate Tower program.

Logistics: Mount Jefferson’s Climate Tower, Saturday, July 8, 2 p.m., Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny with a high of 76.

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Looking ahead: Can’t make Saturday’s hike, but intrigued all the same by Mount Jefferson? Then consider the Rock Outcrop Hike at the park on Saturday, July 29. 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 read more

Your Weekend: Learn your snakes, spot eagles, whitewater

Copperhead (photo courtesy WUNC.org)
Copperhead (photo courtesy WUNC.org)

You have no excuse not to learn about snakes the next couple of months, thanks to Lake Waccamaw State Park. Meanwhile, on Sunday morning there’s a good chance to spot eagles at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, for enthusiasts of wicked whitewater, there’s a release this weekend on the Cheoah River.

Coast: The Snakes of North Carolina

Lake Waccamaw State Park hosts this series daily through June 18. Learn about snakes in general, the snakes found in North Carolina, and about the differences in the 37 species native to our state, such as which ones lay eggs and which ones have live births. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Weekend forecast: The event is indoors. But this weekend it will be on the chilly side; perhaps a light jacket is in order.

Vital Stats: The Snakes of North Carolina, daily at 10 a.m., Visitor Center, Lake Waccamaw State Park, Lake Waccamaw. Contact lake.waccamaw@ncparks.gov or 910.646.4748 for more information, or go here.

Looking ahead: Hike at Fort Macon State Park, exploring the natural side of the park. Meet at the Visitor Center at 10 a.m., Thursday. April 28. More information here.

Piedmont: Eagle Count at Jordan Lake

Join Ranger Steve McMurray at the Poplar Point Recreation area Sunday morning to spot as many eagles as you can. There is no required skill level for this event; beginners to experts are welcome. New Hope Audubon Society counts the eagles four times a year at Jordan Lake; your help will be greatly appreciated in this exercise of citizen science.

Sunday forecast: About 34 degrees during the count; it will, however, be sunny.

Vital Stats: Eagle Count at Jordan Lake (Poplar Point Recreation Area), Sunday, 7-8:30 a.m. Contact: Steve McMurray at 919.362.0586 ext. 219. steve.mcmurray@ncparks.gov More information here.

Looking ahead: Mother’s Day Bird Walk — Bean Shoals Canal Trail on May 8, Pilot Mountain State Park. Pinnacle. More information here.

Mountains: White Water Rafting Adventure on the Cheoah River

Graham County on the southern edge of the Smokies, is home to one of the most challenging and physically demanding rivers for whitewater rafting and kayaking. The dammed Cheoah River has unique features that contribute to some of the best Class IV and IV+ paddling. On Saturday and Sunday, the Cheoah River Release is taking place. You can take part in a guided trip, or purchase a river bracelet and tackle the river on your own. If you can’t make it this weekend, there will also be releases April 16-17, April 23-24, and May 14-15.

Weekend forecast: Saturday: High of 51, low of 29 with winds blowing NW at 25 mph. Sunday: High of 66, low of 42.

Vital Stats: Cheoah River Put-in in Yellow Creek, Saturday and Sunday. River pass bracelets can be purchased at O’Henry’s or Outland Expeditions (800.827.1442). More information here.

Looking ahead: Annual Passholder Spring Sunrise Breakfast, Chimney Rock State Park, Chimney Rock, May 7, 5-7 a.m. RSVP by May 3 to secure your spot. For more information, go 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 read more

Taking the mystery out of a snake sighting

Wednesday, I was hiking along the North Prong of Shining Rock Creek, a lively mountain stream that plunges 2,200 feet in just three miles through a narrow, overgrown canyon. I was in a reveric trance, lulled in part by the rugged vegetation here in the Shining Rock Wilderness,  in part by the cloudless, 70-degree spring afternoon, when —
I like snakes, but their sudden appearance four feet away causes me to stop in my tracks and say, “Whoa!” Such impromptu meetups are common this time of year, as we humans hit the trail more and rising temperatures activate these cold-blooded critters. Being in the sun rejuvenates our spirit, it jumpstarts their system.
After catching my breath, I scoped out the critter, taking a couple of pictures, jotting some notes, searching my increasingly porous memory for clues about what kind of snake it might be. Not that my database was brimming to begin with.
When it comes to snakes and birds, I don’t expend a lot of my remaining gray storage memorizing types and species. Two reasons: One, there are thousands of species to begin with, and two, the same critter can look completely different depending on various factors:

  • Sex. Male birds generally are more colorful than females (the cardinal).
  • Location: Corn snakes throughout much of North Carolina tend to be mostly brown or gray; in the Coastal Plain, they’re bright orange.
  • Age: Adults of most species may have completely different coloration than they do as juveniles.
  • read more