RALEIGH — Interim visitor facilities at Elk Knob State Park in Watauga County are in place in time for the park’s Annual Elk Knob Headwaters Community Day Sept. 13, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
The new facilities include a ranger contact station, three parking areas and picnic grounds. A maintenance compound is in the design stage, and construction continues on a new hiking trail to the 5,520-foot summit of the knob itself.
‘We’re very proud of these new facilities that will help visitors enjoy this developing state park and the community should share that pride,’ Park Superintendent Larry Trivette said. ‘The park staff has had tremendous help from volunteers, and the upcoming community day will be a chance for all of us to celebrate the achievement.’
The Elk Knob maintenance and ranger staff did much of the pre-construction preparation and landscaping and built the picnic grounds, while volunteers, some of them students from Appalachian State University, have logged nearly 1,500 hours in the ongoing summit trail project. Staff from New River State Park and Mount Jefferson State Natural Area have also assisted with the facilities.
Funding for the interim facilities came from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, the primary source for state park capital improvements and land acquisition.
A state natural area was established at Elk Knob in 2003 with an initial land acquisition through The Nature Conservancy. In 2007, the unit was re-authorized as a state park and now encompasses 2,891 acres including land on the adjoining Snake Mountain and on The Peak in neighboring Ashe County.
The community day event, sponsored by the Elk Knob Community Heritage Organization, will be at the park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Since 2005, the celebration has featured a covered dish lunch, entertainment and an opportunity to share and collect oral histories from area residents through the university’s Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Program.