Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation gets nearly $1 million for kids

An ambitious project that began on the Blue Ridge Parkway to connect children with the great outdoors is getting bigger.

Kids in Parks, a signature program of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, has been awarded $921,000 from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation to continue its work helping kids and families reconnect with nature through TRACK Trails.

Over the next three years, the grant will be used to expand the network of trail adventures throughout North Carolina, with a goal of designating at least one trail in every county. In the spring, biking TRACK Trails will open at Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park in Boone. Kids in Parks will also develop an app for mobile devices to guide trekkers on the hiking, canoeing, disc golf, and soon-to-open biking paths.

Since its inception in 2008 with the first one-mile loop on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail starting at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville (at Milepost 384), the Kids in Parks program has introduced children and families to the wonders of the outdoors and encouraged them to become physically active.

TRACK Trails – which are free to hike – can now be found in the Pisgah National Forest, at Chimney Rock State Park, the Orchard at Altapass on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the North Carolina Arboretum, among many others in WNC.

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