What a terrific year it has been to enjoy the outdoors in Rugby. Many exciting things have happened here in 2014!  Our small village  is incredibly fortunate to have so many outdoor opportunities right on our ‘doorstep’, from the Big South Fork River and Recreation Area comprised of 125,000 acres that borders us to the north, to the Rugby State Natural Area, a 676-acre Class I scenic-recreational state natural area that borders us to the southwest, to the many short trails that span Historic Rugby’s own property.

This article will focus on Historic Rugby’s partnership with the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (BSF).

The year began on March 22nd with a clean-up of the Brewster Bridge Area cosponsored by Big South Fork and Historic Rugby. Then, the new Rugby Ranger Station opened on May 24th. The ribbon cutting ceremony on June 21st made the BSF Rugby Ranger Station the official Southern Gateway to the Park. It proved to be a festive event with music and refreshments enjoyed by all who attended. We thank BSF Park Superintendent Niki Nicholas for spearheading this project!

Located in the center of town, the Rugby Ranger Station is open on summer weekends until the end of September and offers Ranger led hikes beginning at 1:00 p.m., Eastern, on Saturdays and Sundays to two scenic, and historic, BSF trails in Rugby: the Gentlemen’s Swimming Hole and Meeting of the Waters.

We welcome our new Ranger, Amy Barnes, a local Rugby resident who is not only proficient in the natural history of the area, but also extremely knowledgeable about Rugby’s history as a British Colony founded in the 1880’s. Her ability to interpret both the natural and cultural history surrounding Rugby is a great attribute for our visitors.

Inside the Rugby Ranger Station is a display of many archival photos of the Rugby part of the park as it was used before the park’s creation, and being enjoyed over the decades from the 1880s through 1940, offering the visitor a unique look into the rich past of the area.

In addition to providing general park information including the park newspaper, maps and back country permits, visitors can also have their National Parks passports stamped with the new Rugby stamp!  For more information on that program please click on National Parks Passports. Also offered is a Historic Rugby sponsored FREE 15 page booklet for the Gentlemen’s Swimming Hole and Meeting of the Waters trails.

Even more exciting for the little ones is the opportunity to become Junior Rangers through the National Parks Service program. All they have to do is come by the Ranger station and pick up a free junior ranger booklet. They can complete the fun activities in the booklet on their own time and once it has been completed Ranger Amy  (or any BSF park ranger ) can check it over and issue a badge and a patch! Be sure to get a copy of the current park newspaper to check for additional programs suitable for kids in other areas of the park.

We hope you will join us for the weekend hikes offered through the BSF Rugby Ranger Station, as well as two upcoming FREE outdoor programs Historic Rugby is offering this fall for our friends who enjoy the outdoors!

On Saturday, September 20th, Larry Pounds, an expert in the native plants of Tennessee, will offer a day-long Fall Wildflower Walk beginning at 10:00 a.m., Eastern time.

On Saturday, November 15th, Randy Hedgepath, State Naturalist for the Tennessee State Parks, will be leading two hikes to two different State Natural  Areas beginning with a morning hike to Colditz Cove, followed by lunch at the Harrow Road Cafe and an afternoon hike in the Rugby State Natural Area.

Nothing beats the outdoors in Rugby this time of year-so come on up and enjoy the immense variety of outdoor opportunities we have for you!.