Today is the 2nd Annual National Kids to Parks Day and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program is celebrating by opening 11 trails in three different states, doubling the size of their TRACK Trails program in one day. There are two new trails each in Virginia and North Carolina, and seven in South Dakota.
The National Park Trust created National Kids to Parks Day in 2011 to empower kids to discover and enjoy parks in their community. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation launched their Kids in Parks program to help get kids and families “un-plugged,” outdoors, and actively engaged in the natural, cultural and historic resources. The successful program is exploding with Track Trails planned all over the nation—thanks to a $1 million grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation and partners throughout the country.
Kids to Parks Day is a nationwide event aimed at getting kids in our parks so they can discover and enjoy the parks in their community, inspiring the next generation of future park stewards.That "seemed like a natural fit for the Kids in Parks program to make a big splash" with the TRACK Trails dedication, said Jason Urroz, director of the Kids in Parks program.
Each TRACK Trail provides self-guided, brochure-led adventures designed to turn an ordinary hike into a fun-filled adventure. And, kids who register their TRACK Trail adventures on the Kids in Parks website become members of the program’s Trail TRACKer Team and earn incentive prizes such as Trail TRACKer Gear designed to make their next outdoor adventure more interactive and fun.
The Kids in Parks program currently has two types of TRACK Trails: their standard hiking trails designed for kids aged 3-12 and their Nature Trail Disc Golf Courses designed to reach the teenage and young adult populations. Each TRACK Trail trailhead has a set of self-guided brochures (or in the case of the Nature Trail Disc Golf Courses: scorecards) designed to enhance the visitor experience by providing information about the natural, cultural and historic resources that make each location special.
Nine of the eleven new trails are disc golf trails.
The Kids in Parks program, which originally began on the Blue Ridge Parkway – the most visited unit of the National Park System – has worked with other land management agencies to expand the TRACK Trail network to national parks, national forests, an Army Corps of Engineers site, several city/county parks, and 3 state park systems: North Carolina, Virginia and South Dakota.
"It’s an exciting time for our program and our partnering agencies,” Mr. Urroz said. “Our program is going to double in size on one day, growing from 11 trails to 22 trails in three states.”
The Kids in Parks program’s TRACK Trail Grand Openings scheduled for National Kids to Parks Day are:
- North Buncombe High School Nature Trail Disc Golf Course. Weaverville, NC – 10am
- Enka High School Nature Trail Disc Golf Course. Enka, NC – 3pm
- Hungry Mother State Park TRACK Trail. Marion, VA – 10am
- Grayson Highlands State Park. Mouth of Wilson, VA – 3pm
- Hartford Beach State Park Nature Trail Disc Golf Course. Corona, SD
- Oakwood Lakes State Park Nature Trail Disc Golf Course. Bruce, SD
- Angustora State Recreation Area Nature Trail Disc Golf Course. Hot Springs, SD
- Randall Creek State Recreation Area Nature Trail Disc Golf Course. Pickstown, SD
- Oahe Downstream State Recreation Area Nature Trail Disc Golf Course. Ft. Pierre, SD
- Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area Nature Trail Disc Golf Course. Yankton, SD
- Big Sioux State Recreation Area Nature Trail Disc Golf Course. Brandon, SD