Carolina Thread Trail Expansion Plans Move Forward

Plans continue to move forward for a 1,460-mile Carolina Thread Trail that would stretch across 15 counties.

Greg Lacour
On Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 05:00
Charlotte, NC

Walkers, joggers and bicyclists can currently access 113 miles of the Carolina Thread Trail, and there are plans to add 1,347 more miles. Commonly known as The Thread, this network of trails reaches 11 counties in North Carolina and four in South Carolina, and 14 of those counties have completed blueprint master plans detailing where The Thread will eventually expand and weave throughout their communities. The ultimate goal is to link people, places, cities, towns and attractions along 1,460 miles of preserved natural areas.

"Carolina Thread Trail is a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Catawba Lands Conservancy. We help individual communities realize the vision to connect trails with their neighbors to eventually link more than 2.3 million people," says Ann Browning, Carolina Thread Trail project director. "We provide technical expertise and assist communities to gain funding for this effort through privately raised sources and public grants."

A Quality of Life Issue

Browning says 76 local governments are currently involved with The Thread's planning process to extend existing trails in their individual communities. Some of the partial Thread trails now open to the public in the region include the:

  • Cloninger Rail-Trail in Lincolnton, N.C.
  • Highland Rail Trail in Gastonia, N.C.
  • Bakers Creek Greenway in Kannapolis, N.C.
  • Broad River Greenway in Shelby, N.C.
  • Wylie Walking & Bike Trail in Chester, S.C.

A map showing where trails exist is available at

"Right now, there are big gaps sprinkled throughout the region, and one of our main priorities is establishing a 155-mile north-south spine reaching from Statesville, N.C., to Great Falls, S.C. - 33 miles of that spine are already on the ground," Browning says. "The Thread is a long-term project that has been embraced by all participating communities as a quality of life issue. We're protecting natural resources, connecting people to nature, and it's good for economic development because more businesses will want to locate along the trail."