National Trails Day Saturday in North Carolina’s state parks was seasoned by the introduction of several new and innovative trails.
At Lake James State Park, more than 50 mountain bikers came to inaugurate 15 miles of newly built biking trails at the park’s Paddy’s Creek Access. Seconds after a ribbon was cut at 9 a.m., bikers streamed onto a four-mile, beginner-loop trail and an 11-mile intermediate loop built by a contractor with help from park staff (which built three of the trail’s four bridges) and volunteers, many from the Northwest North Carolina Mountain Bike Alliance. The project, including a new parking area, represents an investment of $210,000 from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. The trails, which are also open to hikers in good weather, will help make the Paddy’s Creek Area of Lake James a year-round destination, complementing an extensive swim beach, bathhouse and picnic grounds opened in 2010.
A new TRACK Trail designed to get kids outdoors was dedicated at Grandfather Mountain State Park on the eve of Trails Day. The one-mile section of the Profile Trail was turned into a self-guided, kid-friendly trail designed for exploration. Pilot Mountain and William B. Umstead state parks celebrated new trail segments that help connect those parks with other trail assets in their communities. A “volksmarch” along a new section of Raleigh Greenway opened the connection between the city’s Prairie Ridge Ecostation and Umstead. The Friends of Sauratown Mountain were largely responsible for a newly relocated and rehabbed trail along Horne Creek and the Yadkin River at Pilot Mountain State Park. This is part of a larger trail network envisioned for the Sauratown Mountain region.
In all, the state parks system held more than two dozen events for the day. Volunteers appeared at a number of parks to improve existing trails and build new ones, including Elk Knob, Crowders Mountain and Lake Norman. And, Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail held workdays at several locations along the 1,000-mile route.