Colorful Trails: The Intersection of Art and Nature

There are many ways to enjoy a trail—a long run, a hard ride, a contemplative stroll. Much like a path winding through the woods, art is also wide open for personal exploration, existing to challenge us, ground us, and encourage discovery. Projects around the Blue Ridge are merging art and nature, offering opportunities to enjoy creativity outside of traditional museum and gallery spaces.

In addition to enhancing outdoor experiences, Miranda Kyle, arts and culture project manager for the Atlanta BeltLine, says placing installations outside and along trails helps democratize art by making it accessible to more people.

“There may be that kid out there who would never go to a museum and feels like that space is not for them,” Kyle said. “Then they see the artwork on the trail and get inspired as the next generation of creatives. Public art serves to be an example of the best of our hopes and dreams, what we want for ourselves and our city. If that isn’t inclusive and accessible, then it has failed.”

Most people who visit Elk Knob State Park come for the views of the North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia mountains from the Summit Trail. While the Beech Tree Trail, an easy one-mile loop around the picnic area, does not offer the same views, visitors will walk through an American Beech forest marked with engraved hand-printed works of art.

Whether in the middle of a city or a forest, here are a few scenic spots to find art in the wild…

 

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