BANDY CREEK — The Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area’s Centennial Challenge is taking to the night.
This week’s ranger-led hike will be a night stroll along Duncan Hollow Road, listening and looking for creatures of the night between Bandy Creek and Mitchell Field.
“We will rest under the stars and see if we can call out to our owl friends for a visit before we make our way back to the parking lot,” the BSF says in a release describing Saturday evening’s hike.
The hike, which will depart from the Bandy Creek Swimming Pool parking lot at 8:30 p.m., is one in a series of every-other-week hikes that are guided by park rangers as part of the national park’s Centennial Challenge. To date, the hikes have all taken place during the late morning and early afternoon hours.
The Centennial Challenge encourages visitors to the Big South Fork to cover 100 miles by hiking, biking, paddling or riding a horse to mark the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The self-paced, self-guided challenge relies on the honor system, as visitors log their miles on a form that can be downloaded from the BSF’s website at nps.gov/biso. In December, a ceremony will be held to commemorate the challenge and celebrate those who have completed the 100 miles.
Duncan Hollow Road is a one-lane, gravel multi-use trail that travels the length of a ridge from the Bandy Creek area to near Station Camp Creek. It is intersected by Duncan Hollow Bypass and Alfred Smith Road and is used to access the backcountry trailhead at Grand Gap Loop.
Saturday evening’s hike will cover 5.14 miles. The road is level and the hike will be easy.
A number of nocturnal critters make their home in the Big South Fork NRRA’s 125,000 acres. Among them are barred owls, eastern screech owls, red foxes . . . and, yes, skunks.
The BSF encourages hikers to carry water, snacks and a flashlight — preferably one with a red lens. Comfortable shoes should be worn.
For more information on the Centennial Challenge, visit nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/centennial-challenge.