Enjoy Special Park Activities for National TRACK Trails Day on August 24
Event celebrates 10-year anniversary of program that connects kids to the outdoors
Kids in Parks/Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
Kids in Parks is inviting families to enjoy guided hikes and animal encounters in celebration of the first National TRACK Trails Day on Saturday, Aug. 24. This nationwide day of nature adventures highlights the tenth anniversary of the Kids in Parks program. This program is comprised of a network of TRACK Trails that feature self-guided activities, turning park visits into fun and exciting outdoor experiences. Kids in Parks began with the installation of a TRACK Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, and today there are nearly 200 TRACK Trails across 12 states, and Washington, D.C., including more than 100 in North Carolina.
How It Works
Kids in Parks was developed by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. The program partners with state and local parks to identify kid-friendly trails underutilized by the local community and transforms them into TRACK Trails. These trails offer posted signs that tell families what to expect on the trail and provide brochures that guide children on adventures designed to excite and educate them about local wildlife.
Each child selects an adventure to pursue when their family sets out on a TRACK Trail. Participants who want to explore the Eno River State Park TRACK Trail, for example, may choose to do the Need for Trees adventure, through which they learn about trees in the local ecosystem. Or they might choose Birds of the Piedmont, through which they learn to identify common birds in the park. Kids in Parks works with each park to assign adventures to trails. The program also offers other kinds of adventure trails besides hiking, including biking, disc golf and even paddling trails.
Upon completing each TRACK Trail adventure, families sign into the Kids in Parks website to record that they have completed the hike and to answer questions about their adventure. Kids in Parks then sends each child a reward in the mail for having completed the adventure. The prizes can help motivate children who might otherwise prefer to stay indoors. Prizes include trail stickers, nature journals, patches, TRACK sacks, bandanas, magnifying glasses and walking stick medallions. Here's a list of local TRACK trails in the Triangle.
National TRACK Trails Day Happenings
Activities at Triangle-area sites include:
Snake and Wildlife Trek
Falls Lake Recreation Area, Durham
10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 24
Enjoy a 1-mile hike to look for snakes and other critters. Bring hiking boots, bug spray, a hat and a camera. Parents must accompany children. Meet near the parking area for shelter 7 at Sandling Beach.
Ranger-led Hike on American Beech Trail
Raven Rock State Park, Lillington
10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 24
Join a park ranger for a 1/2-mile hike. Meet at the picnic shelter.
Prairie Ridge EcoStation, Raleigh
2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 24
Follow a naturalist on this guided walk to learn about the TRACK Trails program, and seek out plants and animals along the way.
Summer Sunset Stroll
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough
7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 24
Join a ranger for a 1-mile hike atop the highest point in the area at sunset.
Kids in Parks works to encourage children and parents to improve wellness by venturing outdoors and “unplugging” from the distractions of modern life. In a time when children have become increasingly disconnected with nature, the benefits of outdoor play can be dramatic and long lasting. And not only do people benefit from being outdoors, but parks also benefit when people use them. Stronger connections between children and parks cultivate stewards who will understand the value of public lands. To learn more about Kids in Parks, get directions to the events listed, or to find other National TRACK Trails Day events, visit kidsinparks.com.