FORTBLACKMORE — Local nature lovers will gather at Bark Camp Lake in the Scott County portion of the Jefferson National Forest this weekend to take part in the sixth annual High Knob Naturalist Rally.
The daylong event, which is organized by the Clinch Coalition, will include a variety of hikes and nature talks designed to provide greater understanding and appreciation of High Knob, a 4,233-foot mountain that straddles the Scott/Wise county line.
The 2012 edition of the rally will kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday with a 5K trail race along the shore of Bark Camp Lake. The race will be followed at 10 a.m. by the lineup of hikes and presentations.
“We hope that this exciting event will attract new participants and highlight the important health benefits outdoor activity provides,” Clinch Coalition President Shawn Becker said. “It will take place on the lakeshore trail, which circles the lake.”
Organizers are encouraging race participants to sign up early to take advantage of the $15 pre-registration fee. Registration the day of the race will cost $18. Runners will be given a T-shirt for participation and will be registered for prizes.
In addition to the 5K race, the rally will also feature a special “Birds of Prey” presentation that will be held by the Letcher County Raptor Rehabilitation Center. At least one bird will be present, organizers said.
Located in Whitesburg, Ky., the Letcher County Raptor Rehabilitation Center houses raptors native to the Appalachian Mountains.
Master falconer Mitch Whitaker will conduct the “Birds of Prey” presentation.
Lunch will be served at the rally and will feature banjo player Corbin Hayslett as entertainment.
In addition to showcasing a variety of banjo tyles ranging from clawhammer to three-finger picking, Hayslett will also give a short history of the instrument.
The Clinch Coalition began hosting the High Knob rally at Bark Camp Lake in 2007, with nearly 50 people attending the initial event.
Since that time, organizers said the rally has grown in both scope and attendance, with the number of visitors more than doubling those in the first.
Despite visitors being met by rain, sleet and even snow at some of the rallies, Clinch Coalition Director Chris Clark said the event has continued to grow thanks to the family-friendly atmosphere it provides and the natural beauty of Southwest Virginia.
“While you can’t always depend on the weather, you can always count on the rally being a fun event for the whole family.” Clark said.
For more information on the High Knob Rally lineup of events, or for directions to Bark Camp Lake, visit www.highknobnaturalist.org .