Wilderness Gateway State Trail

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Wilderness Gateway Trail
Length0 miles (0 km)
LocationNorth Carolina, United States
Established2019[1]
DesignationState Trail (North Carolina)[1]
UseHiking
Hiking details
SeasonYear-round
SurfaceNatural
Maintained byNorth Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation

The Wilderness Gateway State Trail is a unit of the North Carolina state park system in Burke and Catawba Counties, North Carolina in the United States. The State Trail is planned as a hiking trail connecting the Town of Valdese, the City of Hickory, the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail and South Mountains State Park.[1]. The trail is a collaboration between local governments and the state, with development coordinated by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation (NCDPR).

History

The trail started out of interest in creating a state park along the Jacob Fork River and Henry Fork River in Catawba County.[2] On May 17, 2018, State Senator Andy Wells introduced a bill in the North Carolina General Assembly to create a Jacob Fork State Natural Area in Catawba County.[3] The bill failed to pass, but support for the concept grew. Over the Fall of 2018, Catawba County[4], the City of Hickory[5], City of Newton[6], and the Town of Long View adopted resolutions in support of a state park along the rivers.[7][8][9]

Hickory owned 160 acres (65 ha)[8] of undeveloped land along Jacob Fork, with access to US 321, which the city originally acquired for a never realized economic development project in the 1990s.[10] In early 2019, the city donated the property to the Foothills Conservancy to help establish the state park.[11][10] The Foothills Conservancy used the matching value of the city's donation to help them acquire 188 acres (76 ha) of adjoining land along the river in April that year.[12][13][14][11][10] The conservancy intends on holding onto the properties until NCDPR is able to acquire them.[12][13][14]

While the Foothills Conservancy was acquiring land for the state park system, another bill was introduced in the General Assembly to establish the Wilderness Gateway State Trail.[15][13] Since the headwaters of Jacob Fork and Henry Fork are in South Mountains State Park, legislators reasoned authorizing a state trail along them would improve public access to the existing state park, while simultaneously permitting the NCDPR to acquire land along the rivers in Catawba County.[15][13][9][16] The bill included a directive for NCDPR to study feasible routes for the trail, while also considering ways to improve access from Interstate 40 to South Mountains State Park.[16][1] It requires NCDPR to report on its findings by December 1, 2019.[1] The bill was signed into law on June 3rd, 2019.[1][17][9]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Session Law 2019-20". Raleigh, North Carolina: General Assembly of North Carolina. June 3, 2019. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  2. ^ "Potential State Park Along the Henry Fork and Jacob Fork Rivers" (PDF). City of Hickory. September 18, 2018. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  3. ^ "Jacob Fork State Natural Area Authorization". Raleigh, North Carolina: General Assembly of North Carolina. May 24, 2018. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  4. ^ "Agenda - Sept 17, 2018" (PDF). Catawba County Board of Commissioners. September 17, 2018. p. 62. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  5. ^ "Agenda Hickory City Council" (PDF). City of Hickory. October 2, 2018. pp. 12–15. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  6. ^ "Minutes" (PDF). City of Newton. October 2, 2018. p. 2. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  7. ^ Griffin, Kevin (September 20, 2018). "Proposed state park gets OK from Hickory, county". Hickory Daily Record. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Griffin, Kevin (September 23, 2018). "Is time ripe for our first state park? Lawmaker says it could attract 1 million visitors annually". Hickory Daily Record. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Griffin, Kevin (June 5, 2019). "State commits to adding Catawba County to trail system". Hickory Daily Record. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c "Agenda" (PDF). City of Hickory. February 5, 2019. pp. 11–13. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Griffin, Kevin (January 17, 2019). "City OKs 161-acre donation to support state park plans" (PDF). Hickory Daily Record. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina purchases land for new park in Catawba County". Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina. May 12, 2019. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c d Griffin, Kevin (May 9, 2019). "State park plan takes major step, says Sen. Wells". Hickory Daily Record. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Ramlagan, Nadia (May 13, 2019). "Land in Catawba County Could Become Next NC State Park". Public News Service. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  15. ^ a b Murphy, Chrissy (April 28, 2019). "Bill could connect Valdese to South Mountains". Morganton Herald. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Epley, Justin (May 30, 2019). "Trail bill passed, presented to governor for approval". Morganton Herald. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  17. ^ Conley, Mike (July 22, 2019). "New laws authorize new trails for McDowell". McDowell News. Retrieved July 29, 2019.

External links


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