State budget funds 25 miles of new trail in Old Fort
The recently adopted 2023-2025 state budget includes $2.5 million for trail construction in the Pisgah National Forest surrounding Old Fort. The allocation represents a portion of the $24.9 million total set aside for specific trail and greenway projects statewide.
To be appropriated to the Camp Grier G5 Trail Collective, the $2.5 million will be used for 25-30 miles of trail over the next two years in the Grandfather Ranger District.
“This ground-breaking investment in Old Fort is a true testament to the importance of national forests as an asset for our local communities,” said James Melonas, Forest Supervisor for the National Forests in North Carolina.
Planning for the Old Fort Trails Project was approved in late 2021 as a vision to build 42 miles of new multi-use trails from Catawba Falls to Curtis Creek at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
To date, 10 miles of trails have been opened, including the new Old Fort Gateway Trails. The additional 25-30 miles of construction funded by this allocation will bring the project close to completion by 2025.
The project is the third largest named in the budget, with the biggest chunk of funding, $12 million, going to Conserving Carolina for continued development of the Saluda Grade Corridor Trail in Henderson and Polk counties, while Columbus Jobs Foundation, Inc., in Columbus County will get $4 million for a walkway, trail project and related capital improvements.
Ten smaller appropriations go to a variety of projects scattered over the state. These include $2 million to the town of Blowing Rock in Watauga County for the Middle Fork Greenway and $200,000 to Friends of the Overmountain Victory Trail, which covers 225 miles in Rutherford, Burke, Caldwell, Wilkes, McDowell, Avery and Mitchell counties.
Additionally, the budget includes $25 million to start a new trail and greenway funding program called the Great Trails State Program and $5 million for the Complete the Trails Fund, which supports authorized North Carolina State Trails.