State park rangers and environmental experts from around the region will converge at the park and at the old Flag Pond school to share their expertise in traversing the 2,058-acre park and the insight they have gained in their early research of what they describe as “one of the most biologically diverse habitats in North America.”
The lineup of daily hikes and educational programs will highlight the natural features of Rocky Fork including wild, medicinal plants and wildflowers currently at the peak of their bloom, the park’s rare lungless salamanders, local native American history and the park’s own geological fault line.
The jamboree will kickoff at 5 p.m. Friday with a hike along the fault line led by geologist Will Miller, of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, featuring some of park’s most outstanding rock formations and cliffs.
The hike will be followed by an 8 p.m. salamander hunt, led by researchers from East Tennessee State University whose studies revealed the lungless salamanders of Rocky Fork.
The jamboree activities will resume at 10 a.m. Saturday with the “Trees of Rocky Fork,” an exploration of the “path of an Appalachian hardwood cove forrest,” led by State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath.
“Rare and Sensitive Plants of Rocky Fork,” a slideshow featuring the discoveries of Dr. Levy, who led a decade-long plant collection project in Rocky Fork, will start at 11 a.m. and will be followed by a short hike into the park.
Lunch time exhibitions will run from 12:30-2 p.m. at the schoolhouse and will include tomahawk throwing and blacksmithing demonstrations and and a crosscut sawing competition.
Guests may bring their own lunch or purchase hamburgers and other concessions available onsite.
“Life Under Water at Rocky Fork,” an extensive look under the surface of Rocky Fork Creek led by Ranger Marty Silver from Warriors Path State Park and Americorps volunteer Andrea Bowman, will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Participants are advised to wear shoes they do not mind getting wet.
At 3:30 p.m., pharmacist Mary Beth Babos will lead “Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants,” an informative hike to fill participants in on the specific medicinal benefits of various plants at Rocky Fork.
At 5 p.m. John Radford, from Red Clay State Historic Site, will lead a two-mile hike titled “Lives of the Cherokee” to the infamous site of the Flint Creek battle between John Sevier and a warring band of Cherokee.
At 7 p.m., locally renown outdoorsman David Ramsey, will presents a slideshow tour of many of the park’s difficult to access vistas and other points of interests.
And at 8:45 p.m., jamboree guests will take in the night sky from Rocky Fork in a program titled “Celestial Delights, Rocky Fork From Then Until Now.” The program is designed help guests “take in the big picture, learn some constellations and basic skills to find your way among the stars,” with large telescope zoom-ins on planets and deep sky objects. Guests should dress for cool weather and expect a program cancelation in the event of rain or cloudy skies.
The jamboree will wrap up on Sunday with a challenging 10 a.m. hike from Rocky Fork to Devils Fork Gap.
The weekend’s only event with an entry fee and mandatory registration, the strenuous seven-mile hike will be led by Rocky Fork rangers, starting at the park’s main trailhead through Flint Creek Gap and on along the Appalachian Trail to the Flint Gap Appalachian Trail Shelter.
Participants should bring a lunch, snacks, plenty of water, rain gear and long pants.
The park is located off Old Asheville Highway at 501 Rocky Fork Road. The school is located at 110 Schoolhouse Road, just off Old Asheville Highway.
For more information about the jamboree visit the Rocky Fork State Park website at tnstateparks.com/parks/about/rockyfork or the Rocky Fork State Park Facebook page, or contact Rocky Fork State Park Ranger Tim Pharis at tim.pharis@TN.gov or 423-353-0899 or 423-271-1233.
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