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Get Outside Weekend Update July 2-5

Festivals, Events, & Outings

Thursday, July 2

Friday, July 3

Saturday, July 4

Sunday, July 5

Monday, July 6

Tuesday, July 7

Wednesday, July 8

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Pete's Pick: It's Just You and the Trail(work)

Roanoke Trail Work Help

It’s just you and the ground ahead. Feet pounding rocks and dirt. (Or tires rolling against the rough.) The smell of honeysuckle and a coming rain shower.

No earbuds. No tablets. No email. Just you and the trail.

This is a shared experience for many of us in Roanoke. With more than 1,000 miles of trails within an hour of downtown, many of us find our solitude hiking or biking one of these paths. Others take to the trails in clusters and find the communal experience invigorating. Either way, it’s quality time spent on the trail.

Do you ever stop to think of how that trail came to be?

It takes a network of the entire community. From individuals to organizations to innumerable volunteer hours, there’s a lot that goes into making that trail the perfect place for you to hike or bike.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Cox Conserves Hero winners for the past two years are from Roanoke. Brian Batteiger (2014) and Bill Gordge (2013) are trail builders with Pathfinders for Greenways. (And their dedication to the trails helped bring further recognition and funds to greenways projects.) These crews also work in state and national parks.
  • The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club maintains 120-plus miles of trail along the A.T. that passes through the region.
  • Roanoke chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association is building mountain bike trails at Carvins Cove and along Mill Mountain.
  • Blue Ridge Gravity is building downhill flow trails at Carvins Cove.
  • Roanoke Parks and Recreation has a dedicated trail specialist who organizes trail work at Carvins Cove, Mill Mountain and other parks.
  • Local, state and federal agencies are actively listening to the community and finding ways to enhance the trail experience.

In all, more than 60,000 volunteer hours have gone into these trails since 2003. (And countless more hours are to come.)

That’s where you come in. There’s nothing like enjoying these trails, but you can also help shape, create, and maintain them. Do your part, give back, and volunteer to help build and maintain our trails.

Roanoke volunteers are building trails at a faster pace than anywhere else in the United States, according to the Professional Trailbuilders Association. Imagine what the condition of our existing trails could be and how many new miles of trails we’d have if every person spent a half day lending a hand.

Just one morning of work — think of how many afternoons of play you will get in return.

And then think about all the good you are doing for the community as a whole. When people think of the outdoors, they think of our mountains, trails and rivers, but they might not realize that the outdoor industry is an economic powerhouse.

It fosters economic growth and opportunity. The outdoors is part of the story of Roanoke and contributes to the recognition of this region as a vibrant area where people want to live and businesses want to locate.

And it shows. Some of our trails are so popular that they are in constant use. McAfee Knob is the most photographed point along the Appalachian Trail and a popular day hike. (So consider a less-traveled trail next time you head out.)

More businesses rooted in the outdoors are calling Roanoke home. From bike shops to outfitters to adventure by design, trails are the tie that bring it all together.

So take out your earbuds, leave your email behind and hit the trail.

Or better yet, grab a shovel. We’ve got some work to do.

(You can start working with our trails this week. Volunteers for the new Rock N Roll trail at Carvins Cove are needed Friday. The group will work most of the day. Email if you have questions and to volunteer.)

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There Are Plenty of Ways to Celebrate July 4 in Roanoke

Happy birthday, America!

How do you plan to celebrate the long weekend?

There are plenty of events all over the region that give you plenty of reason to get out, get active and celebrate. Here are a few ways to spend your holiday weekend:

  • Run 4 miles. With not one, but two race options, everyone can get out and run the greenway. Your first chance is Friday evening with the Friday 4-Miler and there’s another opportunity Saturday morning with Four on the Fourth
  • Cook out with family. There’s no better way to spend the holiday at home than tossing a few burgers and hot dogs on the grill. (And chase them back with a beverage from one of the breweries or wineries in the area.)   
  • Catch a festival. If you are closer to Salem, the Salem Fair is back and packed with music, rides and attractions. The Buchanan Community Fourth of July Carnival is also underway with plenty of old-fashioned fun for the family. TAP Hope Revolution is happening at Elmwood Park in Roanoke all day Saturday with plenty of great music from local acts such as Rutledge all the way to headliner Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
  • And, of course, fireworks! With plenty of professional displays to watch, you can see the lights from almost anywhere in the region. So pick a location, grab a chair and enjoy! Not sure where the closest event is? We’ve got you covered with a list of displays all over the area.
  • There are plenty of other events happening all weekend as well. Join the Facebook July 4 events list for more (or to add your events) and keep up with all the latest happenings all the time with the Roanoke Outside calendar.  
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Join This Weekend’s Alley Cat Race

alley cat bike race roanoke

It’s a bike race that will test your navigational skills. Roanoke’s first AmeriCat Alleycat Bike Race is Saturday, and has no set course. The race is designed with a set of tasks and checkpoints to test your skills.

If you have not tried, or heard of, an alley cat race before this is the deal. The informal race has roots in bike messengers and races have been hosted in major cities all over the world. The race format is a little different in that prizes are often offered for a variety of elements, not just top finishers.

The Roanoke race will provide cyclists with a list of tasks and checkpoints. You can chose how to accomplish these goals and the route you take to get there. Each cyclist will be awarded points for completion of tasks, speed, ability, dress, type of bike, and various other to-be-determined criteria. The cyclist with the most points wins.

Participants just need to be on time to participate; there’s no registration fee. All you will need is a bike, a backpack/messenger bag, camera phone and a sense of adventure! Hydration and safety gear is highly recommended. Show up, have some fun, meet some awesome people, and who knows you might end up with some cool prizes.

AmeriCat Alleycat Bike Race

  • When: Saturday, July 4 at 9:50 a.m.
  • Where: Highland Dog Park
  • RSVP: On Facebook
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Join the Star Challenge This Month

star challenge bike climb roanokeYour legs deserve a climbing workout. So grab your bike and get ready for the Star Challenge.

The challenge starts Monday and continues every Monday throughout July. You will climb some great mountains and hopefully earn a prize of two.

Here’s the skinny:

  • Riders meet at Underdog Bikes for registration at 5 p.m., then and leave at timed intervals from the intersection of Walnut and Laurel beginning at 6 p.m.
  • From there you'll climb the Old Road to the Star (Sylvan/Prospect) as fast as you can.
  • The rider in the male, female, Clydesdale, and Athena category with the lowest combined time over three of the four weeks will be crowned King and Queen of the Mountain.
  • Not the fastest climber? There are still great prizes each week regardless of finishing order.

The event is free for all Blue Ridge Bicycle Club members. (Not a member? Learn more about joining.)

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Get Outside Weekend Update June 25-28

Festivals, Events, & Outings

Thursday, June 25

Friday, June 26

Saturday, June 27

Sunday, June 28

Monday, June 29

Tuesday, June 30

Wednesday, July 1

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Pete’s Pick: Berry Picking

pick your own berries roanokeIt’s that time of year where a little fresh fruit makes everything better.

From jams and jellies to cobblers and pies or just a handful or berries, fruits seem to taste even better when you have picked them yourself.

So why not head out this weekend and harvest some of your own berries and whip up ones of your signature recipes. There are plenty of options when it comes to pick-your-own locations all around Roanoke as well.

Here are a few tips for making the most of your berry harvest:

  • Get out early (and wear sunscreen) to grab berries in the morning.
  • Take a bag or bucket with a handle to make picking easier.
  • Only pick berries that are ripe and plump. Berries that are too small or not quite ready can have a bitter taste.
  • Take them home, wash, and enjoy!
  • And if you are planning to freeze or can, try to do so within 24 hours for the best flavor.
Creative Commons photo by cathredfern
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Tinker Creek Canoe Launch Opens

canoe launch

Vinton’s latest outdoor project is now open to the public. The Tinker Creek Canoe Launch was opened ceremoniously with a ribbon cutting and recognition of contributors and volunteers June 24.

The project allows the existing canoe/kayak launch on 3rd Street to be opened for use by the general public, and is funded by an $11,500 grant from American Electric Power and a $10,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. 

The launch is approximately a half mile above Tinker Creek's confluence with the Roanoke River and will allow for the launch of canoes, kayaks, and SUPs to access the river. The 3rd Street access is a component of the proposed Roanoke River Blueway and the Roanoke Valley Greenways network. 

Launch area improvements include signage, a kiosk to post river access info such as maps, landscaping, and parking.

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Pitch a Tent for the Great American Backyard Campout

camping roanoke

Let’s go camping for a good cause. The annual Great American Backyard Campout is Saturday and the national event doesn’t require that you even leave home. Grab the kids, the tent, and plan a camping adventure at home this weekend.

Make a pledge to join the event; a few national sponsors are donating $1 for every participant to the National Wildlife Federation.

But why camping? Simply because outdoor play is good for the mind and body. Pick your favorite spot, turn all the devices off and spend the evening together in the outdoors.

Here are a few activities for the whole family:

  • Chase fireflies
  • Play flashlight tag
  • Set up an obstacle course
  • Perform campfire skits
  • Roast marshmallows or hot dogs

So have a great campout this weekend and let us know about your big back yard adventures. If you take photos share them with us on Instagram using #roanokeoutside.

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LEAP Goes Mobile

mobile farmers market roanoke

Eating local, healthy, and fresh food just got a whole lot easier with LEAP Mobile Market.

The mobile market, a small bus filled with fresh produce and other goodies, will make weekly stops in Southeast and Northwest Roanoke.

What’s really cool about LEAP is that all the food you buy is sourced from local growers. All community markets operate under the 100 mile rule, which means that all items sold at the market must originate within 100 miles of the market location. And 90 percent of the producers’ good are from within 50 miles of the markets. Although it is not a rule, the majority of the products sold at the markets are produced using organic methods.

LEAP is a 501c3 nonprofit founded in 2009 and was originally a project of the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op. In 2010, LEAP expanded by launching the year-round West End Community Market in partnership with the West End Center for Youth. LEAP’s strong foundation is rooted in the farmers, market vendors, and market customers who first jumped feet first into community markets. LEAP continues to build a stronger local food system thanks to committed individuals, LEAP Board members, market customers, LEAP staff and volunteers, community partners and our amazing food producers.

You can still find LEAP at its permanent locations – Grandin Village Community Market and West End Community Market.

Here’s the weekly schedule for the mobile market:

  • Wednesday 2-4 p.m.: Lincoln Terrace Head Start (1801 Dunbar Street)
  • Wednesday 4:30-6:30 p.m.: New Horizons Healthcare (3716 Melrose Ave.)
  • Thursday 1:45-3:45 p.m.: Indian Village Head Start (1916 Wise Ave.)
  • Thursday 4-6 p.m.: Metropolitan Community Church (8th St. and Dale Ave.)

There are plenty of other farmer's markets all over the region as well. Find one in your neighborhood and visit this weekend.

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