Huzzah for Hiking Festival kicks off new club at Kings Mountain National Military Park

“Huzzah” is a colonial-era way of saying “hurrah,” but the antique word will soon take on new meaning at the Kings Mountain National Military Park.

On Saturday, the park near Blacksburg, S.C., will host a festival to call attention to a group called the Huzzah Hiking Club.

Representatives from local outdoor attractions, along with hospital and public health professionals will be on hand to talk about activities that promote healthy lifestyles.

The hiking club is being organized in advance of the two-year celebration of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary that begins in 2015. The family-friendly hiking project is part of a nationwide initiative by the park service to get people active outdoors.

Chief Ranger Chris Revels said the club will set challenge goals for members who can not only hike the national park’s trail system, but trail networks at two adjoining parks: the Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina and Crowders Mountain State Park in North Carolina.

“When club members come to the park they’ll register at the Kings Mountain national park Visitors Center,” he said. “That’s how we’ll keep up with the milestones. It’s a way to get people interested in the park.”

As club members take part in such volunteer events as trail work days “they’ll benefit their lives and help us, too,” said Revels.

People can learn more about the club on Saturday and also sign up at no charge. The festival, which is also free, is being funded by an Active Trails grant from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of the national parks.

The program supports projects that help restore, protect and/or create land and water trails across the country. The projects include hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, and volunteering. Since 2008, the foundation has granted nearly $2.4 million through its Active Trails program.

The Kings Mountain National Military Park was one of 37 national parks selected for a grant this year.

The site of the October, 7 1780 battle between Patriot and Loyalist forces, the Kings Mountain park has a 1 1/2-mile paved trail around the historic battleground.

But hikers can cover 16 miles by staying on trails that go into the South Carolina state park. From there, they can hike onto Crowders Mountain State Park’s Ridgeline Trail.

In 2000, after years of negotiation, North Carolina bought 2,000 acres that doubled the size of Crowders Mountain park and saved the land from development.

The deal preserved most of the ridgeline of the 15-mile Kings Mountain range, which runs through Gaston and Cleveland counties in North Carolina and York County, S.C.

It also created a land bridge the two states had been hunting for years.

In 2009, the park systems of both states dedicated the Ridgeline Trail, which is now part of the Carolina Thread Trail.

The Charlotte-based Thread Trail will be represented at the Huzzah for Hiking Festival on Saturday and Marketing Director Alesia Dicosola said “we’re excited to be a part of the event.”

The Ridgeline Trail, which is the first cross-county and cross-state trail connection for Thread Trail, is also the longest segment within the 15-county system.

Dicosola said the Thread Trail, which now has 217 miles open to the public, “is really getting momentum.”

Upcoming Get Hiking Charlotte’s Thread Trail hikes include an event on Sept. 18 at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte. It’s a moderate, 90-minute hike along the Long Creek Trail, guided by Sean Bloom, The Catawba Land Conservancy’s Geographic Information Systems director and biologist. There’s a limit to the number of hikers and registration is required.

Meanwhile, the Kings Mountain National Military Park’s new Huzzah For Hiking Club is planning special events in the fall and spring. At the Saturday festival, along with the focus on healthy lifestyles, there will be a nature crafts area and music by the Mike Strauss Band.

“It’ll be a good day for young and old,” said Chris Revels. “They can learn about outdoor opportunities at the park. That it’s not only about history, but the also the natural environment.”