Carolina Thread Trail reaches 100th mile

Five years ago, a group of forward-looking individuals, businesses and community groups came together to support a vision called the Carolina Thread Trail – a planned network of trails and greenways, connecting communities and preserved green space across 15 counties. Today, in Davidson, N.C., we will commemorate the completion of the Thread Trail’s 100th mile.

It is a day for celebration, to recognize what good leadership and public-private cooperation can achieve. Thousands of people already are enjoying the trail of serene wooded paths, open fields and paved urban landscapes.

Thanks to the efforts of so many York County leaders, supporters and volunteers, there are already 21 miles of trail that are part of the Carolina Thread Trail network across our county, so we are off to a great start. Imagine a contiguous trail reaching from the Nation Ford Greenway, through the Anne Springs Close Greenway and Baxter Village, connecting to the Piedmont Medical Trail at RiverWalk and ultimately connecting to a beautiful riverfront trail on the Catawba Reservation. This is an opportunity well within our reach.

The Carolina Thread Trail initiative began in 2007 when the nonprofit Catawba Lands Conservancy – backed by the Foundation for the Carolinas – set out to engage our region in the creation of a connected network of green spaces, regional destinations, parks, towns and neighborhoods. Partners such as the Nation Ford Land Trust joined in the effort. To date, 14 of our 15 counties have created master plans to be part of The Thread Trail, reaching more than two million people in North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina.

Other highlights:

  • What began as a campaign to create 500 miles of trails now encompasses plans for 1,500 miles of trails due to tremendous interest.
  • $3 million in grants for planning and building trails have been awarded to communities across the region.
  •  1,300 acres of natural lands have been permanently conserved and will house the Thread Trail, thanks largely to North Carolina’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
  • Anyone can find the closest trail with our new interactive online map, which highlights 59 trails for hiking, biking, walking and running, along with sites for canoeing and kayaking on the Catawba and South Fork rivers.

As we embark on our second 100 miles, we hope more people in the 15 counties will recognize the value of the Thread Trail that connects us. We need continued leadership from more than 70 local governments, businesses, non-profit partners and volunteers.

The Thread Trail not only links people, places, towns and attractions, it also will help preserve our natural beauty, expand recreational opportunities and continue to boost our economic vitality. The Thread Trail can attract commerce along trail routes, and it offers alternative transportation options to commuters, as well as those who can’t afford to maintain an automobile.

There is much work ahead. We are still early in our journey to realize the Thread Trail, but with continued leadership by community leaders, elected officials, the business community, non-profit partners and volunteers, planned trails will become actual ones. With simultaneous individual community efforts, new trails will be added each year, celebrating what’s special about a particular community, while enhancing the tapestry that is our region.