Outdoor Adventure Editor Greg Dunn urges hikers to Leave No Trace for those who use this beautiful area
Living in Blue Ridge for seven years, my wife and I have had ample time to explore most every trail and recreation area within a 50-mile radius of downtown. As a mountain biker, the Aska Trail system is probably one of my favorite systems due to its varied terrain and the fact that the main trailhead, Deep Gap, is just only about 10 minutes from town. My wife and I share a common love for the woods and get out as much as we can, but with our new addition, 17 month old Finn, we find ourselves seeking areas with more “stroller” friendly terrain.
Welcome to Lake Blue Ridge Day Use Area. Designated a “passive recreation area” by the U.S. Forest Service, the area boasts beautiful lake views, a free boat ramp, a 1 mile paved walking path, and short single track hike that takes you along the shoreline.
Carrie, Finn, and I live just north of downtown, so on the weekends I ride my mountain bike from the house (to get in a few extra miles that have been lacking lately) and meet them there. The paved trail is perfect for Carrie’s jogging stroller and I can spin right along side. If we have extra time I can continue out Dry Branch to Aska Road, where I can link up with the Aska trail system. Just below the parking lot is a meadow, and a beach-like shoreline that is perfect for cooling off after a hike or ride.
This past Sunday was one of those late summer mornings that give you that slight feeling that fall is approaching so we decided to head out to dry branch to take advantage of the weather before it got too hot. I rode as usual to meet them there and as I pulled up to where they were parked, I noticed a large black trash bag that had recently been torn into by critters. Apparently these poor folks just couldn’t spare the extra dollar that it would take to properly dump their garbage and thought the parking lot was a perfect spot.
I get so sick of seeing this, a perfect example of total disregard for others and obvious disrespect for the environment, not to mention pure laziness. So instead of letting it piss me off even further I decided to put my money where my mouth is and do something.
As I mentioned earlier, this recreation area is considered by the forest service to be a “passive recreation area” basically meaning that they are not going to spend money to maintain it. Looking around the parking lot makes this painfully obvious with waist high weeds, trash and debris everywhere. A large fallen Oak tree on the backside of the paved loop has been there now for over a month. I would have already taken my chainsaw in to cut it, but legally I can’t because I haven’t paid money and spent an entire weekend to get my “chainsaw certification.” And I run a chainsaw for a living!
Despite the obvious neglect, Lake Blue Ridge Day Use Area is being used quite a bit. We saw at least 10 vehicles come and go, people hiking with kids and joggers running with their dogs. If you haven’t ever been to this area you should check it out. If you like the area as much as I do then maybe think about volunteering some time to pick up a little trash or even let the Forest Service or the Lake Blue Ridge Civic Association know that you would like to help.