Carolina Thread Trail seeks feedback on plans

What’s the Carolina Thread Trail?

Those who attended one of three recent open houses in Lancaster County found out. The meetings – held April 4 at Andrew Jackson High School, April 5 at Lancaster County Library and April 11 at the Indian Land Recreation Center – gave local residents a chance to look at maps of the proposed project, hear a live presentation and ask questions before responding to survey questionnaires.

Representatives of the Charlotte design and planning firm Haden Stanziale gave the presentation, with help from Lancaster County Planning Director Chris Karres and John Ghent with Katawba Valley Land Trust.

The Carolina Thread Trail is a regional network of greenways and trails for walking, hiking and bicycling. The name is derived from the region’s textile heritage, drawing a parallel between the thread that connects fabrics and trails that connect people to nature.

It was launched in 2007 as a project focused on preserving natural corridors and connecting locales through a trails network. The trails link 15 counties in the Carolinas.

A number of routes are proposed in Lancaster County, connecting to trails in Mecklenburg and Union counties in North Carolina and York and Chester counties in South Carolina. They link to the next region to the south in Kershaw County. Two of the trails are “blueways,” or water trails, along the Catawba River and Cane Creek for kayaking and canoeing.

Program presenter Bert Lynn said feedback surveys from 250 local residents were used to determine the types of trails needed and to design the preliminary plan.

There are four types of ground trails – natural, gravel, boardwalk and paved. The trails here will be mostly natural. The Lancaster County phase has been in the planning process for about a year. The entire project will take at least 20 years.

Ghent said when it’s finished, the Carolina Thread Trail will be the longest continuous trail east of the Mississippi River.

Ghent said he’s encountered concerns about eminent domain from a number of people.

“That’s not an issue here,” he said. “We’re using existing greenways and public lands and right-of-ways, and acquiring by easement, purchase or donation.”

The Carolina Thread Trail website outlines a guiding principle: “Respect for the land and respect for the landowners.”

The trail is planned, built and owned by the communities. Community participation is voluntary. Planning is collaborative and based on citizen input. Guidelines encourage using public land or rights-of-way or land or rights-of-way acquired from willing landowners.

Attendance at the open houses was somewhat disappointing, organizers said, because of conflicting school activities and other events. Travis Morehead of Haden Stanziale said the survey has had about 300 participants, but they would like more.

If you missed the meetings, it’s not too late to make your voice heard. Online surveys are being conducted through Tuesday, April 19, so residents can submit their input. Visit and click on “learn more” under the “Lancaster County Online Survey” heading beneath the “What’s New” headline.

The website also offers comprehensive information about the Carolina Thread Trail.

By Nita Brown, Staff Reporter with The Lancaster News