North Carolina: The Great Trails State
Trails and greenways provide numerous benefits to communities, not only recreational and environmental benefits, but also significant economic development, health, and transportation benefits. Hikers, paddlers, mountain bikers, equestrians and walkers have an abundance of opportunities to experience some of North Carolina’s most magnificent landscapes.
The Year of the Trail
The North Carolina General Assembly has designated 2023 as NC Year of the Trail, an effort led by the Great Trails State Coalition, a group of organizations, agencies and supporters advocating for increased state investment in all types of trails in North Carolina.
State trails are distinguished from other regional and local trails, while still offering regional connectivity and public access. While a state park is operated and managed by the Division of Parks and Recreation, a state trail is composed of multiple, connected sections and, as a whole, epitomizes partnerships. Each section of the trail is sponsored by a federal, state or local government agency, nonprofit organization or private landowner.
Section sponsors build, maintain and manage their section of trail — deciding on location, design, surface, permitted uses and amenities. The North Carolina Trails Program is responsible for the overall corridor planning and coordination.
Investing in the outdoor recreation economy
The General Assembly’s FY 21-23 budget included a historic $29.25M in nonrecurring funds in for the Complete the Trails Fund, marking the first time North Carolina has made a significant direct investment in trails. This vital funding will lead to tremendous progress for the 12 authorized State Trails across North Carolina. These include eight land-based trails and four paddle trails:
- Deep River State Trail
- East Coast Greenway State Trail
- Fonta Flora State Trail
- French Broad River State Trail
- Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail
- Mountains-to-Sea State Trail
- Northern Peaks State Trail
- Overmountain Victory State Trail
- Roanoke River State Trail
- Wilderness Gateway State Trail
- Dan River State Trail
- Yadkin River State Trail
The Complete the Trails Fund will provide grants for State Trail projects and build capacity for State Trail nonprofit partner organizations. It will be managed by the NC Trails Program within the NC Division of Parks and Recreation.