TRACK Trails Program Expanding To Catoctin Mountain Park

TRACK Trails, a kid-friendly trails program created by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to encourage youth to get outdoors, is expanding to Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland.

Catoctin Mountain Park will designate the Brown's Farm Trail in Owens Creek Picnic Area as part of the Kids in Parks program at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.

The entire 4th grade class from Westminster Elementary School, Westminster, Maryland, will participate in the ribbon-cutting. They will hike the new trail in the afternoon as part of a day in the park where they will learn about wetlands and water quality at the Owens Creek Picnic Area. The field trip and hike are examples of the environmental education partnership between Catoctin Mountain Park and area schools.

The Kids in Parks program has been installing a network of kid-friendly hiking trails, called TRACK Trails, along the Blue Ridge Parkway since 2009. The program's initial success and replicability has gained national attention leading to the program's growth beyond the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor.

Jason Urroz, who oversees the Kids in Parks program for the Foundation, is excited to partner with the National Park Service's National Capital Region Parks on their Healthy Parks, Healthy People DC project.

"The network of TRACK Trails we have formed in the region will continue to grow, giving kids and families from the area multiple options to get outdoors, get 'unplugged' and get connected to the resources, special places and national history that make this region so wonderful," said Mr. Urroz.

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is honored to support such an innovative and important initiative as it expands beyond North Carolina to our nation's capital", said Jennifer MacDougall, senior program officer with BCBSNC Foundation.

"Support from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of North Carolina is an important first step towards broad recognition of National Parks as natural places for healthy activities and place-based learning laboratories," added Catoctin Mountain Park Superintendent Mel Poole.

Over the next few years, the National Park Service, and partners like Kids in Parks, will continue to make progress in the fight against childhood obesity and nature deficit disorder by expanding opportunities for kids and families to get outdoors and active in our parks and public lands; by continuing to move the "Park Prescriptions" program forward, encouraging pediatricians across the country to begin prescribing parks and outdoor activity to kids; and by continuing to install TRACK Trails in national parks and other partnering land management agencies across the county.