The grand opening celebration of the new Nature Trail Disc Golf Course at Ashe County Park was held on Saturday, June 28, to kick off the annual High Country Disc Golf Championships.
More than 90 disc golfers were in attendance to celebrate the event and play in the tournament.
Since 2009, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program has been installing a network of kid-friendly hiking trails, called TRACK Trails, in communities along the Parkway (and beyond), with the mission being getting kids and families “unplugged”, getting outdoors and reconnected to nature for both their health and the health of the park.
The program’s hiking trails have been well received by families with younger kids (12 and under); but not as successful in reaching teenagers.
To remedy that, the Kids in Parks program decided to create Nature Trail Disc Golf Courses in an attempt to attract more teens and young adults to outdoor recreation – because after all, disc golf is essentially a hike with a frisbee.
Nature Trail Disc Golf Courses are regular disc golf courses, with the difference being the use of scorecards that double as field guides, and the use of tee-signs that double as interpretive panels about the natural, cultural and historical resources that can be found along each hole and around the course.
Additionally, each tee-sign offers a “Pro-Tip”, giving novice players tips about various types of throws and techniques that can help them be more successful, making the experience more fun.
The Ashe County Park NTDGC project was made possible through a grant provided by the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Association, with fund provided by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation.
“We are excited to have partnered with Ashe County Park, the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Association, and Innova Disc Golf on this project. Having one of the greatest courses in the country become a Nature Trail Disc Golf Course is a tremendous complement to our program and a testament to what the Nature Trail Disc Golf Course program can become, nationally”, said Jason Urroz, Director of Kids in Parks. “We currently have four Nature Trail Disc Golf Courses in North Carolina and 17 nationally; the concept is a ‘no-brainer’ and is really taking off.”
“We are excited to have partnered with North Carolina State Parks on the Lake James TRACK Trail together,” said Urroz. “The network of TRACK Trails we have formed within the state parks and other land management agencies are giving kids and families from the area multiple options to get outdoors, get ‘unplugged’ and get connected to the resources and special places that make this region so wonderful.”
Michelle Wells, Executive Director of the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, said, “We are happy that our partners at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation earmarked funds for NCRPA locations in their grant to the Kids in Parks program. These funds will allow our park partners to provide their visitors with a fun, educational program that may have otherwise not been available.”
Harold Duvall, owner of Innova Disc Golf and designer of the Ashe County Course, said of the project, “I love the Nature Trail Disc Golf Course concept. The inclusion of information pertaining to the surroundings is a perfect fit for the Ashe County Course. The scenery and terrain make the Ashe County Course one of the best in the country, and the new Nature Trail materials certainly add to the quality of the experience.”
Kids who register their rounds of golf at the Ashe County NTDGC through the Kids in Parks program’s website (kidsinparks.com), earn prizes (discs, mini disc, patch, stickers and other prizes) designed to make their next disc golf outing more fun.
The prize system is supported by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, in partnership with Innova Disc Golf.
Ashe County Park is located at 527 Ashe Park Rd. Jefferson, NC 28640.
For more information on the disc golf course, call Ashe County Parks and Recreation at: (336) 982-6185
About the Kids in Parks program:
Kids in Parks is a program of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and was formed through partnerships between 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, their mission is to promote children’s health and the health of our parks by engaging families in outdoor adventures that increase physical activity and foster a meaningful connection to the natural and cultural world.
The Kids in Parks TRACK Trails program provides kids and families with a network of self-guided hiking trails. Every TRACK Trail has a series of brochures designed to turn an ordinary walk in the woods into a fun-filled adventure.
Furthermore, for every adventure kids register through the Kids in Parks website, www.kidsinparks.com, they earn Trail TRACKer Gear designed to make their next outdoor adventure more interactive and fun.
About the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation:
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior, is the primary fundraiser and trusted steward of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Foundation is forever committed to preserving the past, enhancing the present, and safeguarding the future of America’s Favorite Journey.
We are proud to serve and support this extraordinary environment that connects the spirit of countless people through a twisting ribbon of mountain road. We are a strong defender of the Parkway, funding needed projects that enhance and protect the natural, cultural, historic, and recreational qualities that make the Blue Ridge Parkway an American treasure.
For more information visit www.brpfoundation.org and www.kidsinparks.com