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By Amy Renfranz (

Article Published: Aug. 2, 2012 | Modified: Aug. 2, 2012

Grayson and Jackson VanLue are two of the young volunteers who make the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Adopt-a-Trail a success.

Photo submitted

Earlier this week, a group of teenage volunteers and I marched through a parkway wetland looking to inventory dragonflies.

It was too windy for the “mosquito hawks” to be out, so instead we took a walk.

On our walk down the Old John’s River Road Trail, we ate blackberries, took our shoes off and played in the creek, and talked about going back to school. It was the perfect day, dragonflies or no dragonflies.

I work with those young volunteers once a week, but there are many other volunteer groups to be involved in. My question this week concerns one of those very such programs.

I recently saw a flyer for the Blue Ridge Parkway’s “Adopt-a-Trail” program. How do I sign up for this? - BRP Lover

Could there be a better day than the one where you get out on the trail with your friends, work hard as a group to preserve its beauty, and eat a picnic lunch together?

I don’t think so.

Many of the parkway’s volunteer programs are managed by the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway Inc., a nonprofit group based out of Roanoke, Va. They manage the Adopt-a-Trail program.

There are more trails available for adoption in our area than in any other in the park. Even worse, with parkway funding being as it is, there is no official NPS trail maintenance crew.

With that being said, I want you to consider your favorite spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Do you love the Thunder Hill Trail? Get out there and pick up trash! Gotten muddy feet on the Boone Fork Trail? Don’t just complain, dig some ditches! Scratched by briars on the Tanawha? Grab some shears!

Of course, there is an official process that you need to go through before you bring your shovel to protected park land.

“Get together a group that will want to work together,” advised Fernando Garcia, coordinator of programs and volunteers for the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. “Trails are a lot of work and require the commitment of several people.”

Plus, it’s more fun with your friends.

Once you have your core group, get out there and hike the trail you are considering. There is a list of available trails on the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway website. Make sure that the trail and its maintenance will be within the physical abilities of your group.

Once your decision is made, fill out the paperwork, which is also available on the Friends website.
“We try to make things easy,” Garcia said.

I think they do a good job of it.

For more information about the Adopt-a-Trail program visit or call (800) 228-7275. For more information about Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, including local chapter information, visit

Thank you, BRP Lover, for taking ownership of your park and for, after getting through the paperwork, making it a better place.

Ask Ranger Amy

If you have a question concerning flora and fauna, please email ( All of your questions will be answered. One will be featured next week. See you on the trails!

Amy Renfranz is an interpretive park guide on the Blue Ridge Parkway. She is a certified naturalist through the Yellowstone Institute and a certified environmental educator in the state of North Carolina. Her comments are made independently and do not reflect the views of the National Park Service.

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