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Hikers, bikers, climbers, runners and paddlers have a chance to explore the natural beauty of the region at NC Trail Days, an event which begins today.

Activities are planned for Elkin, Jonesville and Stone Mountain State Park today through Sunday.

This inaugural festival has been a year in the planning for organizers from Elkin Valley Trails Association, Explore Elkin and the town.

“I think we have come up with a festival that will appeal to many age groups and many interests,” said Denise Lyon, festival director.

“We have such a diversity of trails and outdoor opportunities in our area, and we wanted to highlight them all. So you’ll find not only hiking, paddling, running, biking and climbing opportunities, but activities that appeal to kids, history buffs and folks who aren’t quite as physically inclined. For example, our speakers forum happens all day on Saturday and features luminaries in the world of hiking and trail development speaking on some very interesting topics.”

“You can see the full schedule of speakers on the festival website, but they include two MST through-hikers who will talk about their long distance hikes, a celebrated mountain bike trail builder, a long time trail advocate and the executive director of the Friends of the MST,” Lyon continued.

“This will be held in the comfort of the Heritage and Trails Visitor Center. We also have live music, a 5Point Adventure Film Reel and a Main Street Exhibitors Village in downtown Elkin all day on Saturday. You can even bring your camp chairs and watch tree climbing demonstrations all day on Saturday near the Elkin Library.

“Jonesville has a 5K run/walk the morning of Saturday and then an entire day of food and live music on the Jonesville Greenway. You can bring your bike, boats and boots and get out and enjoy our trails, or you can take it easy and relax. This is what we wanted to create — a great festival that celebrates our trails, our river, the great outdoors and the fun and welcoming people who live in the Yadkin Valley.”

The earliest event of the festival will be the National Trails Day workday on the Mountains to Sea Trail at Stone Mountain State Park from 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. this morning. Volunteers are invited to help finish a new trail by removing roots, finishing tread/slope, and other tasks.

A Revolutionary War encampment to celebrate the Overmountain Victory Trail with reenactments and educational activities will take place all day today and Saturday at the Heritage and Trails Visitor Center, located at 257 Standard St.

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Jonesville Greenway Trail and Sgt. Gregory K. Martin Memorial Park will be held at 11:30 a.m. today.

At 1 p.m. that afternoon, Bill Blackley, of Elkin Valley Trails Association, will lead a mile and a half hike to the Piedmont Village Native American dig on the greenway where they will meet with Eric Jones, Wake Forest University archaeologist, who will show the dig site and Native American artifacts. Attendees can park at Hometown River Company.

A 5K and live music will take place on the Jonesville Greenway Trail on Saturday.

At 4:30 p.m. today, a stream clean-up from the Elkin Public Library upstream to the Shoe Factory dam is planned through Watershed NOW (Nurture Our Waters). A Yadkin River clean-up also is planned beginning at 4 p.m. from Ronda to Crater Park, coordinated by Yadkin Riverkeeper.

The official kickoff will be a Trail Days Gathering at Elkin Municipal Park today from 6 to 8 p.m. featuring live music by Time Sawyer and a low country boil food tent. The music is free, and everyone is invited to bring a camp chair and enjoy themselves. A food truck will be at the gathering for those not participating in the low country boil. Advance tickets for the low country boil are available on the event website.

Following the gathering will be the 5Point Adventure Film Night at Reeves Theater sponsored by Appalachian Gear Company and Reeves Theater. Tickets are available on the Reeves’ website.

Other weekend events include a Stone Mountain Hill Climb Trail Race at Stone Mountain State Park, a birding hike by the High Country Audubon group, Tour de Trail Days 40-mile group cycle ride, multiple guided hikes, a dutch oven cook-off, the Main Street exhibitor village with food on Main Street and at downtown restaurants and a beer garden, a children’s fishing event by Trout Unlimited, fly-fishing demonstrations, a full weekend of photography workshops with Julian Charles, a Speakers Forum featuring talks by well-known MST thru hikers, trail development specialists and trail advocates, a photography exhibition, yoga for hikers, a women’s kayaking event, a nature-inspired quilt show, a kid’s activity area, and music and a bonfire at the Foothills Arts Council and Martha Bassett Show at the Reeves Theater to wrap up Saturday evening.

One of the highlights of Saturday will be a fun foot parade beginning at 4 p.m. at the intersection of Main Street and Hwy 21 to the Elkin Heritage and Trails Center along Main Street, which is part of the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Contest for things like coolest dog costume, best bike decorations, cleverest use of kayak or canoe and wackiest wheels will be held.

Sunday will be a short day, said Lyon, noting that a pancake breakfast at the Masonic Lodge and the family paddle flotilla on the Yadkin River will take place then. Visitors and residents are encouraged to spend the rest of the day exploring the Elkin area as well as the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail.

While most events are open for people to come and go as they please, Lyon said there are a few which require registration such as the free guided hikes which will be limited to the number of people on a hike at one time, or for events that require tickets such as the low-country boil and film night.

For more information visit nctraildays.com.