Press Release 2016

image2    2016 Reach the Peaks Challenge Set for September 24
Day Of Registration ends at 10am

If you’re looking for the ultimate recreational challenge, look no further than Hanging Rock State Park and the 4th annual “Reach the Peaks” hiking/trail running challenge scheduled for Saturday, September 24.

Reach the Peaks
, offering a strenuous 10+ mile route, will challenge participants to summit the five major peaks of Hanging Rock State Park, including Moore’s Knob, House Rock, Cook’s Wall, Wolf Rock, and Hanging Rock, all in one day.  Organized by the Stokes County Arts Council and Friends of the Sauratown Mountains, for the second year this event will offer two participant options, trail running and hiking.  The event will begin at the Visitor’s Center Parking lot with day of check in/registration taking place for trail runners beginning at 7:30am and for hikers from 8:30am to 10:00am.  The trail run will begin promptly at 8:30am, with the hiking portion beginning with a staggered start from 9am to 10:00am.

img_3049This trail challenge is as unique as the Sauratown Mountain range. There is just something special about it,” stated park superintendent Robin Riddlebarger.  “The greatest thing about this hike is the positive spirit on the trail.  It is not easy for anyone to hike ten miles up five mountain peaks.  But the camaraderie and attitude of everyone encouraging each other is awesome and contagious.  Hikers will want to keep going, to conquer the next ascent, find inspiration in the scenery, and to challenge themselves” said Riddlebarger.

image1-006During the 2015 challenge, almost 400 people completed the challenge in some of the wettest, foggiest, coldest, most miserable conditions, but still waltzed through to the finish line smiling. This year the committee has decided to plan big and prepare for up to 750 participants, limiting the challenge to the first 600 hikers and 150 trail runners.

Those in attendance will receive an event t-shirt, bandana, post-hike meal, and trail comfort/hospitality.  Reach the Peaks is not a race, but a timer will be displayed for participants interested in recording their time.  All participants will be provided an event card to be checked after reaching the summit of each of the peaks. Those who summit all five peaks and complete the hike will receive a specially created “I Conquered Reach the Peaks” embroidered patch.

img_3050Triad Outdoor Painters Association will also be present during the event, capturing the parks landmarks and vistas on canvas, which will be displayed and on sale at the Reach the Peaks Gallery reception in the Visitors Center on Sunday, October 9 from 2pm to 4pm.

Peak Sponsors for the 2016 Reach the Peaks include Flow Subaru, VF Corporation,  Employee Benefit Advisors, Dan River Company, Farm to Feet, and Great Outdoor Provision Company.  Trail sponsors include Singletree Gun & Plough, George Farmhouse, Danbury General Store, Luna’s Trail & Farm, Froggy Waters Outdoors, Newberry Manor, Beautiful Earth, Moore’s Springs Manor, Carolina Ziplines, Carroll Signs, Village Outdoors, Green Heron Ale House and Leonard Turf & Landscape.

img_3047Hanging Rock State Park is the 2012 North Carolina State Park of the Year with over 8,000 acres of hiking trails, waterfalls, lake/beach/bathhouse, campground/cabins, visitor’s center, and Dan River access.

For more information call 336 593-8159.

Eddy McGee, Executive Director
Stokes County Arts Council
336 593-8159

Stokes News Coverage

From the Stokes News Article – Reach the Peaks Set for Saturday

North Carolina’s premier hiking event, Stokes County’s own Reach the Peaks, is already set to exceed last year’s participation numbers when it kicks off Saturday morning.

“We started out with about 110 hikers the first year, then we had 404 last year and we are already past that with 450 advanced registrants this year, and we cut that off a month ago,” said Stokes County Arts Council Director Eddy McGee. The event is joint effort between the arts council, the Friends of the Sauratown Mountians (FSM) and Hanging Rock State Park. “The first two years we doubled the number of participants on the day of the event, so we are conservatively estimating that we will have about 700 people.”

The hiking event, which will take participants to five of Hanging Rock State Park’s main peaks over the course of an 11-mile hike draws participants from throughout the state and surrounding region.

“Over 90 percent of the people who have registered so far are from outside of the county,” said McGee. “Last year we had hikers from eight different states and it looks like it will be similar this year.”

FSM President Jay Young said he was pleased with the way the event had grown so quickly.

“We were ecstatic at the almost four-fold growth of the event in 2014 and are diligently planning for the growth in participation for this year’s event,” said Young. “We are especially pleased to showcase one of our two wonderful State Parks and the Sauratown Mountain range to those coming from other parts of North Carolina and from out of state. We wish for these participants to extend their visit overnight and take advantage of goods and services offered by some of our business members. Hopefully those folks will make return visits between now and next year’s event to discover all that the Sauratown Mountains have to offer.”

McGee said that philosophy toward developing tourism in the county through the event had proven true this year.

“We are finding that people who are registered for Reach the Peaks have actually been coming to Stokes County throughout the summer and training for the event,” said McGee. “It is not just a benefit for the county on the day of the event, it has now become a benefit throughout the year.

“People are coming here to train and they are staying here and eating here,” he added. “I had one lady come in last week who has already hiked the entire route six times this year in training for the event.”

McGee said many local lodging businesses had told them they were already booked with participants for this weekend.

While the main focus of Reach the Peaks is the hiking challenge, the event also draws a number of trail runners, with about 25 runners having registered for the grueling 11-mile course so far.

Runners are set to leave the starting line at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday with hikers heading out between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

“We are going to encourage the hikers stagger when they leave,” said McGee. “That is a lot of people to put on the trails at one time.”

He added that day of registrants would be accepted, but asked that runners register by 7 a.m. and hikers register by 8:30 a.m. Day of Registration is $35 per person. Day of Registration will receive water/fruit, trail map, post-hike meal/beverage, and trail safety team sweeps. Participants who complete the challenge will receive a specially created embroidered patch, and join a select group of hikers who have completed this single day hiking challenge. Dog registration is $15 per dog, with each receiving a Reach the Peaks bandana (and patch should they complete the hike).

“If people are nervous about doing the whole thing, they can still come up and hike a little bit and enjoy the park,” said McGee. “They can help congratulate the hikers as they come in and then they can consider doing it next year.”

Arts are also a big part of the event.

“The Triad Outdoor Painters will be there Saturday,” said McGee. “They have actually started coming up during the week so they will have quite a few pieces finished to display during the event to promote the exhibit reception which will be on Oct. 11 in the Hanging Rock Visitor Center Gallery.”

McGee said this year the plein air painters would spaced out throughout the trail.

“They are going to make an effort to be at more of the peaks and do some pieces where some of the hiking participants are included,” he added.

This year, organizers are also planning more events at the starting/finish line.

“It will be more of a festival atmosphere this year with a lot of vendors in the parking lot,” said McGee. “We will have a DJ with music and we will have food for sale for non-participants.”

Non profit tents that will be present will be Stokes Arts, Friends of Sauratown Mountains and the Sauratown Trails Association. Business vendors will include By Foot Sports and Village Outdoors. There will be one lodging space and the tourism tent.

McGee said the event had also grown its sponsorship base this year. Each of the five peaks is being sponsored by a major contributor including Flow Subaru, VF Corporation, Hanes Brands, Employee Benefit Advisors, and Assurant Employee Benefits and each mile marker is being sponsored by local business, including Singletree Gun and Plough, The George Farmhouse, The Danbury General Store, Luna’s Trail Farm & Event Center, Froggy Waters Outdoors, Newberry Manor, The Beautiful Earth, Moore’s Springs Manor, Carolina Ziplines Canopy Tour, Carroll Signs & Advertising.

An after party is also planned at the Green Heron Ale House from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Proceeds raised form the event will be split between FSM and the arts council.

“The FSM half of proceeds realized from the event will be put to use based on the overall needs of the two parks, but a significant portion will be earmarked for the Vade Mecum repair and restoration fund,” said young. “We are committed to seeing this wonderful facility restored to its former glory and reopened to the public for park visitors and community use.”

McGee said the arts council would likely use the funds to help improve arts programs in local schools.

Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.