National Trails Day

June 4 is National Trails Day®! Thousands of hikers, bikers, rowers, horseback riders, trail clubs, federal and local agencies, land trusts, and businesses come together in partnership to advocate for, maintain, and clean up public lands and trails. Here are just a few of the amazing trails you can ramble on during National Trails Day and beyond.

  • Elk Knob is one of the Amphibolite Mountains, named for the mineral-rich amphibolite gneiss creating more neutral soils than usually found in the mountains, which leads to amazing plant diversity. There are several lovely hikes here ranging from the strenuous Summit Trail for advanced hikers to the Beech Tree Trail, an easy one-mile loop that is designed for children.
  • Chimney Rock State Park is a great spot to see waterfalls. If it looks familiar to you, then you might be a fan of The Last of the Mohicans. The movie’s final climactic scenes were shot on location here. Rumbling Bald, which is part of the park, is an incredibly popular rock climbing and bouldering area.
  • Carvers Creek is parkland including the Long Valley Farm, which was once the summer residence of James Stillman Rockefeller, a scion of the prominent family who bequeathed the farm to TNC. Although the park is still under development, it is a wonderful place for a stroll or a picnic among longleaf pine.
  • Rumbling Bald has a great 1.5-mile loop trail that makes for a quick and fun woodland hike, and watching rock climbers from the base of the cliffs. The trailhead is large and accessible (and features impressive views from the parking area), and the location is convenient to Lake Lure.
  • Nags Head Woods features a diversity of plant and animal life that is unusual to find on a barrier island. Towering oaks, hickories, and beech trees—some hundreds of years old—rise from the sand and create a canopy of trees more typical of the mountains of the eastern United States.
  • The Sandhills Game Land is a true natural treasure. It is one of the best places remaining on the planet to experience a fully functioning longleaf pine ecosystem.
  • Kitty Hawk Woods & Buxton Woods are now managed as part of North Carolina’s Coastal Reserve System. Right in the thick of the hustle and bustle of the northern Outer Banks is Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve. The eastern and western tracts of the Reserve, separated by The Woods Road, offer very different experiences.
  • Mainspring Conservation Trust has developed beautiful public trails on most of their conserved lands (except for Rickman Store). The crowning jewel is Queen Branch which has a new trail for disability.
  • We can enjoy the Dupont State Forest because of teamwork in action. Thanks to the conservation trust funds, The Conservation Fund protected the land and The Nature Conservancy is working with the NC Forest Service to manage Dupont State Forest. Nestled in Cedar Mountain, NC, this is a great place to see waterfalls— several of the prettiest and most well-known are an easy walk from the forest parking lot. If these waterfalls look familiar, that’s because they were featured in the movie The Hunger Games. The forest has also become a popular mountain biking destination, with bikers converging on the area from across the country.
  • Take a hike in the Foothills! Check out some rambling trails on the Conserving Carolina website 
  • Trails are beautiful but they are also a path to cost-effective and long-term solutions that allow all people to share in the benefits of land, water, wildlife, and outdoor recreation. Hiking at Waterrock Knob –  conserved by CTNC and a consortium of land trusts including TNC, The Conservation Fund, and SAHC – is open for all to enjoy.
  • The Carolina Thread Trail is a regional network of trails, blueways and conservation corridors that will ultimately link more than 2.3 million citizens in North and South Carolina.

NC Land & Water Fund Successes!

Since its creation in 1996, the NC Land & Water Fund (NCLWF) has conserved well over one-half million acres and protected or restored 3,000 miles of streams and rivers. Here are just a few examples of how they’ve helped protect land in our state.

  • Orchard at Altapass
    In the 1990s, the property was for sale and many people thought it would be developed for second homes. However, the new owners wanted to preserve its beauty and history. The Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) worked with the owners to protect the orchard by raising funds to purchase conservation easements, which included a grant of $180,843 from NCLWF. Together with the state, the property is now in permanent conservation easement and is still a working orchard. Learn more.
  • Waccamaw River
    NCLWF has awarded 10 projects, totaling over $9 million for projects in the Town of Lake Waccamaw and the Waccamaw lake and river system. This funding has matched over $11 million from local, state, federal, and private funds. Read more.
  • Chestnut Mountain Nature Park
    Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy made this park in Canton, NC, possible thanks to a $1.2 million award from the NC Land and Water Fund, with support from the Attorney General’s office EEG grant, CTNC, Pigeon River Fund, and more. Add this new park to your must-hike list.
  • Salmon Creek – Site X
    This site could hold clues to North Carolina’s oldest mystery, the lost colony of Roanoke. In 2017, NCLWF awarded a grant to the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust to assist with the purchase of 995 acres at the confluence of Salmon Creek and the Chowan River. The Salmon Creek tract is steeped in North Carolina history and could provide clues about much of our state’s past. Preliminary surveys indicate the presence of 18 different archaeological sites throughout the property. Learn more.
  • New River
    With funding from the NCLWF, New River Conservancy works with landowners in Alleghany, Ashe, and Watauga counters to replant and maintain stream-side environments. In Ashe County, Greater Lansing Area Development will restore over half a mile of the actively eroding streambanks of Big Horse Creek. Together, these projects will protect and enhance the trout streams and outstanding resource waters of the New River. Learn more.