Carolina Thread Trail takes steps toward reality

Bridge over Mallard Creek on the Ruth G. Shaw Trail at UNC Charlotte.

Imagine being able to hop on your bicycle in Huntersville and pedal on greenways and trails to your job in the UNC Charlotte area. How about a Saturday morning hike from downtown Lincolnton to the Catawba County line, with the kids? A regional system of trails and greenways is beginning to emerge that promises to make these kinds of options a reality throughout the Charlotte region. New, online maps (see link below) will help you find trails that are open and ready for you to explore. 

The Carolina Thread Trail was originally conceived in 2005 as a way to help preserve open space and create new connections in the region. The Foundation For The Carolinas led the regional process that resulted in the concept of The Thread, and the Catawba Lands Conservancy agreed to serve as lead agency.  Many community partners are engaged in making this vision a reality.  

Eighty-two miles of The Thread are now open. One recent example of a new trail is the Ruth G. Shaw Trail on the Toby Creek Greenway. This new section of the Carolina Thread Trail completes an important connection to UNC Charlotte and links the campus with the surrounding community.  

To help the community find and use these new trails, the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute has worked with the Carolina Thread Trail to create an interactive map resource of completed trail segments.  Click here (or on map graphic) for the interactive map tool. (Note: the interactive map runs best in Firefox or Chrome.  It may load slowly in some versions of Windows Internet Explorer.)

Other communities across the country have similar projects. Central Indiana’s Multi-Use Trail Networks covers a nine-county area around Indianapolis. St. Louis has the Great Rivers Greenway project, which will eventually cover a large portion of the greater St. Louis metropolitan area.

Covering 15 counties in North and South Carolina, the Carolina Thread Trail is ambitious in scope and geography. It has the potential to change the way people in the region get around. “We are thrilled with the enthusiasm for the Carolina Thread Trail across our 15 county region," said project director Ann Browning. "So many communities are embracing this vision and working with us to create their segments of The Thread.”

The Kings Mountain Gateway Trail is an example of the coordinated efforts that are making The Thread possible. Community leaders have been working for years to create this trail connecting the City of Kings Mountain to Crowders Mountain State Park, Kings Mountain State Park and Kings Mountain National Military Park. The Carolina Thread Trail is helping with funding for the next 2.8-mile section, expected to open by summer. More connections to Cleveland and Gaston County trails are to be made later.  

John Chesser