The Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area’s Go Big Challenge is off and running. And with warmer weather setting in with April’s arrival, the park is helping heat things up with two guided hikes this month that will give visitors an opportunity to explore the BSF with rangers.
The Big South Fork will offer a ranger-guided hike along the Rock Creek Loop Trail this Saturday, April 7. On April 21, a ranger-guided hike will take place at Yahoo Falls.
According to the National Park Service, the Go Big Challenge is designed as a “year-long self-paced challenge” that is designed to “encourage all visitors to explore and experience the Big South Fork while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, reducing stress and being physically active.”
Through Dec. 8, participants will earn points on the honor system by answering questions about the nature and history of the park. The questions require exploration in search of site-specific information. Points will also be awarded for miles hiked, biked, paddled or ridden on horseback. Participants who amass at least 100 points will receive a Go Big 2018 challenge patch.
The challenge consists of several categories: a waterfall challenge, a wayside challenge, a trail challenge, a ranger challenge and a social media challenge.
The waterfall challenge offers points for visiting a series of waterfalls within the park’s boundaries, including Yahoo Falls, Dick Gap Falls, Massey Branch Falls, Slave Falls, Fall Branch Falls, Angel Falls rapid, Jake’s Falls, Boulder House Falls, Ice Castle Falls and Honey Creek Falls.
The wayside challenge offers points for visiting Yahoo Falls, Blue Heron Outdoor Museum, Bear Creek Horse Camp, Oscar Blevins Farm, Bandy Creek Stables, the amphitheater at Bandy Creek and Leatherwood Ford, East Rim Overlook, Station Camp Horse Camp, Station Camp River Crossing, and Historic Rugby, and answering specific questions about each site. The questions can be found in the challenge booklet, which can be picked up at the Bandy Creek Visitor Center or printed online by visiting nps.gov/biso.
The trail challenge offers one point for every mile hiked, pedaled or ridden in 2018, plus two points for every mile paddled and 20 points for pedaling the entire 33-mile epic mountain bike route. Thirty points can be earned by hiking or riding the 15-mile Kentucky Trail, and 50 points can be earned by hiking all 65 miles of the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail that are located inside the BSF’s boundaries. Additionally, points can be earned by answering questions about specific sites along the trails.
The ranger challenge offers 50 points for volunteers who sign up to become a Big South Fork Trail Keeper, five points for every ranger program attended, 10 points for becoming a junior ranger, 20 points for doing volunteer trail maintenance during National Public Lands Day on Sept. 22, and 50 points for attending all four of the BSF’s major events, which include the Spring Planting Festival on April 28, Decoration Day at Blue Heron on May 19, the Ghost Train at Blue Heron on Sept. 8, and Haunting in the Hills at Bandy Creek on Sept. 15. Additionally, 20 points can be earned for riding the Big South Fork Scenic Railway to the Blue Heron Outdoor Museum, or for spending the night at Charit Creek Lodge. Ten points can be earned for backcountry camping, which requires a permit, or camping in one of the BSF’s campgrounds. Points can also be earned through a variety of other activities, which are explained in the challenge booklet.
Finally, the social media challenge will be presented on the BSF’s social media platforms on Tuesdays, when the park will present #TriviaTuesday.
A special ceremony will be held on Dec. 8, at 10 a.m., to recognize those who completed the challenge.
This story is the April 2018 installment of Focus On: Outdoor Life, presented by Ray Varner Ford on the first week of each month as part of the Independent Herald's Focus On series. The print version of this story appears on page A3 of the April 5, 2018 edition of the Independent Herald.