Great Outdoors Month gathers steam in state parks

The Sierra Club brought a group of youngsters from Raleigh to learn outdoor skills at Haw River State Park.
The Sierra Club brought a group of youngsters from Raleigh to learn outdoor skills at Haw River State Park.

First came National Trails Day on June 1 and then National Get Outdoors Day on June 8, as Great Outdoors Month has gathered steam in the state parks system.

Several parks organized trail workdays to contribute to an old tradition of improving hiking resources on the first Saturday in June. At Hanging Rock State Park, the new River Bluffs Trail touching on the Dan River was inaugurated. It was built entirely by volunteers, an effort organized by the Friends of Sauratown Mountains.

A highlight of National Get Outdoors Day was the dedication of two new TRACK trails specially designed for youngsters at Morrow

Friends of Sauratown Mountains opened the new River Bluffs Trail at Hanging Rock State Park.
Friends of Sauratown Mountains opened the new River Bluffs Trail at Hanging Rock State Park.

Mountain and Lake Norman state parks. This followed a similar dedication for the Holly Discovery Trail at Lake James State Park June 3. The TRACK Trails program of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and its partners is a network of self-guided hiking trails with activities and learning experiences for youngsters. The state parks system has so far designated 10 Track Trails.

The day also prompted special interpretive programs at a number of parks. Raven Rock State Park hosted a “pollinator” party with a beekeeper and programs about the importance of those insects. At Haw River State Park, the Sierra Club delivered a group of inner-city youngsters for lessons in outdoor skills such as orienteering and fishing.

There’s more to come. The Great American Backyard Campout is June 22. There’s information about that here. And June 29-30, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area and UNC-Chapel Hill will be the venues for an Outdoor Nation summit, when millennials (generally ages 16-28) will gather to exchange ideas and submit ideas for grants for outdoor initiatives. Anyone in the targeted age group can participate for free; details about Outdoor Nation are here.

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