Around NC: Tackling the trail
This area’s part of the long dreamed of Mountains-to-Sea Trail got a boost recently when planners decided on two primary routes in the western Piedmont, instead of just one. Area leaders and landowners along the trail should do all they can to make this dream, and the tourist dollars it could bring, a reality.
In Forsyth County, a southern route would run along trails already planned or in place. That route would wind from western Forsyth to near Clemmons, then east to Winston-Salem, where it would connect with the planned Piedmont Regional Greenway at Salem Lake.
“It gives us an economic opportunity,” Lynda Schwan, the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the Winston-Salem Department of Transportation, told the Journal’s Jim Sparks. “Our trail would be a nice urban loop that would provide users access to cultural activities and stopping-off spots such as Old Salem that maybe a nature trail wouldn’t.”
This route would also bring hikers near the Tanglewood Park campground. There’s all the more reason for county commissioners to push for the quick completion of the renovation of the campground.
The campground would be an excellent complement to the southern route of the trail.
When finished, the trail should allow hikers to walk all the way from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. But here and statewide, there’s a lot of work yet to be done on the trail.
In this area, the northern, rural part of the trail already runs through Surry, southern Stokes and northeastern Forsyth counties. It connects Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock state parks with the Greensboro lakes. But that route is temporary. It was mapped out on existing roads, hiking trails and horse trails to connect stretches of the Mountain-to-Sea Trail already in place. Parts of the trail that are on private property could be lost if landowners opt out.
Landowners should consider the tourist dollars the trail could bring and grant easements for it. And regional planning organizations should back the route as well. Once those groups sign off on the plan, state recreation officials can formally designate sections of trails in Winston-Salem as part of the Mountains-to-Sea trail.
That designation should help get construction money for the trail from state agencies and other groups. Grants from public and private entities will also be needed.
So the new route, just as the trail in general, is a long way off. An iron-man or iron-woman could probably walk from Manteo to Murphy and back by the side of U.S. 64 several times before this dream is realized.
But once this trail is ready, it should lead toward healthy bodies ó and healthy pocketbooks.