TRACK Trail Juggernaut Rolls On
The tenth TRACK Trail interpretive path just opened on Saturday February 18th at the US Army Corps of Engineers’ W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
The trails are an effort of the Kids in Parks Initiative sponsored by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. Working together with partners throughout the country, the mission is to promote children’s activity, health and engagement with nature through family outdoor adventures.
Partners in the TRACK Trail project at W. Kerr Scott include the Corps of Engineers and the Overmountain Victory Trail Association (the Overmountain Victory Trail is a National Historic Trail under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service). Previous partners have included the National Park Service, US Forest Service, North Carolina State Parks, and Virginia State Parks.
The Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir is a best-kept-secret place—a spectacular lake set amidst the rolling foothills of Wilkes County, with three campgrounds, a visitor center, miles of trails, including multiple trail networks offering some of the region’s best mountain biking. There are a swimming beaches, picnic areas, wildlife management areas, fishing and boating opportunities. W. Kerr Scott attracts over 900,000 visitors annually and in 2007 was named the Corps’ Natural Resource Management Project of the Year.
The TRACK Trail is located on the Fish Dam Creek Trail, about a half-mile from the Visitor Center and on the other side of the Dam. The 1-mile long out-and-back path begins on the top of the Dam (near the large flagpole) and gently drops through the woods along Fish Dam Creek to the base of the Dam. The self-guided brochures were designed to be used on any of the reservoir’s trails, including the two trails that start at the Visitor Center’s parking lot.
The Fish Dam Creek Trail is also designated as a NC Birding Trail, contains portions of the Yadkin River Greenway, and the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (the route of backcountry patriots from various starting points in the Southern Appalachians to meet and defeat a British-led army of Loyalists at King’s Mountain South Carolina, now a National Military Park).
Chad Eller, Park Ranger at W. Kerr Scott, kicked things off Saturday by welcoming the crowd and speaking about the partnership formed with Kids in Parks. “We’re excited to have a TRACK Trail here at W. Kerr Scott,” Eller said. “The TRACK Trail’s self-guided brochures are going to aid in our interpretive and educational programming.”
Jason Urroz, Director of Kids in Parks, said, “This trail at W. Kerr Scott is going to expand our current network of trails, giving more kids and families more opportunities to connect with the natural, cultural, and historical resources that make this region so great.”
After the dedication, the kids in attendance were invited to cut the ribbon and officially open the TRACK Trail. Marc Bowen, President of the Over Mountain Victory Trail Association, led the kids and families in an Overmountain Victory cheer—“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!” Bowen was particularly pleased that this, “program is going to help get kids and families connected with their local history and culture.”