The North Carolina High Country boasts some of the nation's most significant natural areas for hiking and mountain biking. Local residents-and visitors-are volunteering their own time to bring brand new, world-class recreational opportunities to the Boone Area.

You can help! Check out the opportunities below and make a difference yourself. It's easy-read how even inexperienced trail builders built the new trail to the top of Elk Knob State Park.

Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park

This multi-loop bike park in Boone is being built right now by professional trail contractors-but volunteer help is key in this exciting trail project. Turn out on Thursday evenings at 5 pm and frequent weekends with the Boone Area Cyclists club to add your time to the thousands of hours already invested. The park's first loop opened May 1st, 2011. Keep track of progress at the blog.

Beech Mountain boasts a mile-high network of mountain biking and hiking trails and volunteers are welcome. Call 828-387-3003 (or e-mail Daniel Scagnelli). The Boone Area Cyclists also schedule work sessions on Beech.

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Come see why this 1,000-mile path from the Great Smokies to the Outer Banks is generating a flood of volunteer enthusiasm.

The Blue Ridge Parkway's spectacular Tanahwa Trail is part of the Grandfather Mountain Task Force of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Please help maintain the trail from Beacon Heights to US 321 in Blowing Rock. Major improvements are planned for the Boone Fork part of the trail. E-mail task force leader Randy Johnson for details.

The last stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in Watauga County was finished last year-watch the video below. The Watauga Task Force (and South Ashe Task Force) continues their maintenance efforts. Contact John Lanman for information and details on work days.

High Country State Parks

Spend time outside helping your favorite state park! Consider joining the new group Friends of High Country State Parks-click to check out their facebook page.

The new trail to the summit of Elk Knob was completed this summer (read about the project and the trail), but maintenance needs at Elk Knob, Grandfather Mountain, Mount Jefferson, and New River State Park offer ongoing opportunities to get involved!

To volunteer at Elk Knob State Park, call 828-297-7261. For Grandfather Mountain, please contact Ranger Andy Sicard to register as a volunteer and hear more about upcoming workdays: 828-963-9522; Check out the Grandfather Mountain trail guide for directions to trailheads. Volunteer at Mount Jefferson State Park by calling 336-246-9653. And phone New River State Park at 336-982-2587.