On our weekly Tuesday Night Hike this past week we lingered at hike’s end to take in the three-quarternmoon that lit the tree-lined parking area. While our 3-mile night hike on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail was pretty great, we might have been just as content to hang out in the lot and bask in the moonlight. Imagine, I thought, being under a full moon and in an area with even more exposure.
If you checked in with us Wednesday — “Coastal Trails Beckon for Winter Hiking” — you know that as the temperatures drop our interest in exploring the coast and coastal plain rises. With that in mind, some thoughts on this weekend.
Soundside Nature Trail Hike, Saturday, Nov. 13, 10 a.m., Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head. Think of Jockey’s Ridge and you immediately think of the shifting dunes that can reach up to 60 feet above the level of the sea, which is a near stone’s throw from the park. But Jockey’s Ridge has intriguing backside that explores a maritime shrub thicket along Roanoke Sound. This is a 1-mile hike. Learn more here.
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!
Don’t let the weather rain on your weekend adventure parade. Grab a rain jacket (or a big trash bag) and venture out for some good, wet, fun! Such as:
Occoneechee Geology Hike, Saturday, 2 p.m., Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough. One of the reasons we like this hike for this weekend is that the trail is generally high up and less susceptible to standing water (except for portions along the Eno River, which will be under water). Quarrying operations from years ago leave the north face of the mountain exposed, making it ideal for a geological dissection. Also: the hike is lead by a geologist. About 1.5 miles of moderately difficult hiking. Free, but registration required, by calling 919.383.1686. More info here.
A mellow downtown bike ride at the coast, an audience with a survivor from the days of Mary Queen of Scots and hankie hike up in the hollow. An interesting weekend of choices in North Carolina.
We love a good organized bike ride. And we have a special fondness for those that don’t cater to the hardcore cyclist capable of riding 100 miles. Or 63. Or even 25. We like the short, leisurely rides that just about anyone could do — even someone without a bike.
That’s the case with Saturday’s Historical Southport Bicycle Tour in downtown Southport. This mellow ride around town takes in Fort Johnston, the Brunswick Inn, the Old Brunswick Jail, the Crimes of the Heart Home, The Indian Trail Tree along the Cape Fear River and more. And at two hours, there’s plenty of time to study the sights. Led by The Adventure Company.
Logistics: Saturday, Oct. 5, 9 a.m. $15 if you have a bike and helmet, $20 if you need a bike and helmet. More info here.
Saturday forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 81.
If you head the to the Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve in Southern Pines Sunday afternoon and hitch on to the Old Growth Hike, you’ll be in the presence of something extremely special: the oldest known longleaf pine on Earth. Old Bessie (not the tree’s real name) rings in at 465 years of age. (We’ll save you the mental gymnastics: this tree sprouted would have sprouted in 1548, not long after Columbus et al started wrecking havoc on the New World.)
Come see one of the few remaining survivors from the year when Emperor Charles V ordered Catholics to become Lutherans. (A slow news year.)
Logistics: Sunday, Oct. 6, 3 p.m. Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve, Southern Pines. More info: 910.692.2167
Saturday forecast: High of 84, partly cloudy.
We like Sunday’s Haint Hike at Elk Knob State Park near Jefferson for the hike’s unusual packing list. The hike is up the Summit Trail and it’s led by “a native Appalachian [who] tells ghost stories from way back in the hollows of Appalachia.” So what do you pack for a haint hike? “Participants should bring hiking attire and a box of tissues, as they will be frightened.”
Logistics: Sunday, Oct. 6, 2 p.m., Elk Knob State Park, Todd. More info here.
Sunday forecast: High of 63, 20 percent chance of rain.
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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.
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).
This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.
Blue Ridge Outdoors