If someone is looking for where it’s happening in the High Country, the person might have to look no farther than Ashe County Park.
Situated along Ashe Park Road in Jefferson, the park can be found humming with activity most any day of the year.
It’s home to an annual trout derby each spring, boasts one of the area’s most heavily-attended summer music festivals in the Ashe County Fiddler’s Convention, has fields fit for both football and baseball game and practice action, and even boasts one of the region’s best disc golf courses.
“The Rotary Club was heavily involved in getting this park off the ground,” Ashe County Parks and Recreation Director Scott Turnmyre said. “I can’t necessarily speak for them, but I think the goal was always to find a spot large enough to host a park, where you could offer folks something to do without having to drive forever. I think they’d like to see what it’s turned into today.”
Ashe County Park today spans more than 70 acres and is located within easy driving distance of most of Ashe County. It hosts multiple athletic fields, a basketball court and skate park, along with three shelters, three playgrounds and a pond, among other amenities.
“That pond — we’ve formed a great relationship with the North Carolina Wildlife Commission and they stock it a couple times each year,” Turnmyre said. “Our trout derby has always been a big thing, but about six weeks ago it was also stocked with catfish, which the kids love, too.”
Seven years ago, Turnmyre said the park also became home of one of the High Country’s only skate parks, when it ditched its aging tennis courts in favor of a concrete pad and the ramp and jumps to help skaters catch a little air. The facility is free to the public, but skaters have to let park attendants open the facility for use.
“They’ve got to be wearing safety equipment, especially a helmet,” Turnmyre said. “I think that was one of the issues back when this setup was actually over in Watauga. It was kind of a battle to get riders to wear their gear, but it’s mandatory here, and we still get somebody up here on it just about every day.”
The park also boasts its well-kept All Star Field on the elevated portion of Ashe County Park — the views of surrounding mountains from its stands are spectacular, Turnmyre said — and two practice fields on the park’s lower section that are used as practice sites for Ashe Youth Football. Those areas offers additional parking and restroom access.
Turnmyre said Ashe Park also offers three separate playground facilities — all feature “safety mulch” meant to cushion youngsters when they tumble to the ground — while nearby shelters allow moms and dads to keep their eyes on their kids while they play.
“We’re also proud of our story walk that was put in with the help of the library and some literacy campaigns,” Turnmyre said. “There are placards set up, they change every-so-often, and parents can take their kids for a walk and tell them a story along the way. We like it because it’s one of the few things that kids and adults can engage in together. Great way to build some memories.”
But the park’s crown jewel just may be its on-site 20-hole disc golf course. Originally designed by Harold Duvall and first built in 2006, the course was recently updated with the help of local players and Innova Disc Golf, Turnmyre said.
“That work resulted in some marked improvement and opened up a couple of alternate holes, which brought us from 18 up to 20, and it didn’t really involve opening up a bunch of new real estate. So if you’ve played it in the past, don’t worry. You’ll recognize it, but it’s just been upgraded a bit.”
Ashe County Park is also pet friendly, as long as animals are leashed.
For an up-to-date listing of park hours and current events, visit ashecountyparks.com or call 336-982-6185. To visit — it’s not hard to find — from Jefferson, take North Main Street/Old NC-16 and turn onto Ashe Park Road.
Adam Orr may be reached at 336-489-3058.