An entire array of activities, from reptile presentations and horseback riding to fishing, disc golf, archery and bluegrass music, are planned during this week's Play Outside Weekend in the Leith Run Recreation Area of the Wayne National Forest.
"It's all part of the National Get Outdoors Day celebration started back in 2008," said Dawn McCarthy, assistant ranger for the Athens District of the Wayne National Forest.
She said the event, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday morning, was developed in partnership with state and community organizations.
"In the past we've generally held an annual fishing derby for kids at Leith Run, but lately there wasn't as much of a response as we'd like-and not everyone wants to fish," McCarthy explained. "So by partnering with the Frontier Local Economic Development Association (FLEDA) and others, we're hoping to bring more of the local community together for a much more expanded event, although fishing will still be part of the activities."
The Wayne National Forest has more than 40,000 acres in Washington County and FLEDA has been trying to promote more activities in the area, said Jack Haessley, president of FLEDA.
"Our group meets monthly, and the Wayne National Forest folks sometimes attend our meetings," he said. "And recently they asked if we'd like to participate and help out with the Play Outside Weekend."
Schedule of events
(Located at Leith Run Recreation Area, unless otherwise noted):
9 - 10:30 p.m. Lamping Homestead Recreation Area (along Ohio 537, off Ohio 26 south of Graysville) night sky viewing with telescopes provided by the Southeast Ohio Astronomical Society
8 - 9 a.m. Morning yoga
8 - 11 a.m. Reptiles
9 - 9:30 a.m. Wayne National Forest K9 Unite demonstration
9 - 11:30 a.m. Fishing and casting presentation
9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Disc golf, orienteering, river mussel match and river critters, archery
10 - 10:30 a.m. Canoe safety
10:30 - 11 a.m. Little tugboat
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Lunch
12:30-2:30 p.m. - Bike skills course
1 - 3 p.m. Horseback rides at Kinderhook Trailhead off Ohio 7 in Newport
7 - 9 p.m. Bluegrass music
8 - 10:30 p.m. Campfire time
9 p.m. Night hike at Leith Run
9 a.m. Birding hike
10 a.m. Triathlon
source: Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
More information available at www.fs.usda.gov/wayne
Haessly said FLEDA was able to help by raising some money for free food and drinks during the event.
"They're bringing a chef in to prepare the food," he said. "And we're providing some firewood."
FLEDA also helped coordinate with the Washington County branch of the Ohio Horsemen's Association, which will be providing horseback riding for children at the Kinderhook Trail site off Ohio 7 in Newport Saturday.
McCarthy said some of the other groups assisting with the Play Outside Weekend include the River Valley Mountain Biking Association and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources which will provide presentations on biking and archery skills.
"We're also providing free camping for the weekend, and as of Tuesday all 21 of the Leith Run campsites had been reserved," she said. "But free campsites are also available at other local forest campgrounds, including the Hune Bridge Campground off Ohio 26."
McCarthy said it's hoped that the Play Outdoors Weekend will become an annual event for the Wayne Forest.
"We want people to realize we're here and there is plenty to do in the Wayne," she said. "And we're always looking for more groups to partner with us and provide even more activities."