Elk Knob Art Trail Celebrates Nature and Creativity

painting of flowers

“Flame Azaleas” by Adam Smith greets hikers at Elk Knob State Park. Photo by Hannah McAlister

In June, 15 Appalachian State University students in Scott Ludwig’s Relief Printmaking course hand-printed, engraved and painted wood blocks to display along the Beech Tree Trail, an easy 1-mile loop within Elk Knob State Park in Todd, N.C. The new artwork is designed for all ages and includes colorful flowers and animals. Local potter Jimmy Savely of Ashe County also provided several pieces featuring native plants.

The project is a revitalization of the Elk Knob Community Heritage Organization’s Art Plan proposed in 2015 to promote sustainability of the Elk Knob communities’ culture, heritage and natural resources. Research conducted by Appalachian State students informed the first series of art pieces on the trail.

“Unfortunately between 2015 and 2018, some of the pieces were stolen and others suffered weather damage,” says Brenda Sigmon, a volunteer at Elk Knob State Park and a volunteer distributor of this newspaper. According to Ranger Brandy Belville, the new art pieces have been constructed with this concern in mind; the posts are cemented, and the art is secured with heavy duty screws and coated with a weather protectant.

The Beech Tree Trail, which journeys through a large American beech forest at 4,500 feet, is also a TRACK Trail, part of the Kids in Parks initiative. The program rewards kids with small prizes for their hiking achievements.

– By Hannah McAlister


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