The first phase of the Old Fort Trails project, the Old Fort Gateway Trails, opens Sunday, June 26 in the Pisgah National Forest. The 6 miles of new multi-use trails are part of a 42-mile trail extension planned in the Old Fort area. The new trails are the result of a collaboration between Camp Grier’s G5 Trail Collective, Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation – CDC, People on the Move Old Fort and the US Forest Service Grandfather Ranger District, known as the Catawba Vale Collaborative.
The new trails will open with a dedication ceremony and day of celebrations in Old Fort, North Carolina at the Old Fort Gateway Trailhead on Curtis Creek Road. The Catawba Vale Collaborative and its partners will host an inclusive, family-friendly event for the community to participate in a day of celebration and outdoor recreation. This free and public event will mark the culmination of two years of partnership, volunteerism and community building, and will also serve to highlight the types of activations, community gatherings and increased foot traffic this project hopes to bring to the area.
“The ribbon-cutting of these first six miles of the trail represents years of dedication, collaboration and volunteerism in the community,” said Lisa Jennings, recreational manager for the US Forest Service Grandfather Ranger District. “Together with the new trailhead and 100-car parking lot, this accessible trail system will provide a gateway for everyone to experience the Pisgah National Forest.”
The vision of the Old Fort Trails project is to improve the health and well-being of local residents, boost local economies through outdoor recreation, and build community through shared spaces on public lands. These first 6 miles of trails will be the most accessible trails in the system and are designed to be enjoyed by users of all abilities.
“Outdoor recreation is a catalyst that can improve public health, increase economic dynamism in our communities, and connect us to each other and to nature. Our public lands are the best investment we can make in our communities and in the livelihoods of future generations,” said Jason McDougald, Executive Director of Camp Grier.
Lavita Logan, Project Coordinator for People on the Move Old Fort, said, “I am incredibly excited that these trails are so close to town to bring the outdoors to a diverse community. As an outreach coordinator, I’m working to make more people of color feel comfortable out there and on the trails.”
Trail construction was funded by a $490,000 grant to Camp Grier’s G5 Trail Collective Program received from Dogwood Health Trust, with additional commercial property development support awarded to Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation . In addition to trail building, the Catawba Vale Collaborative works to support all aspects of a resilient community.
“This moment is important for the City of Old Fort because it will help ensure a diverse economy, including manufacturing, housing and tourism-related small business development. Trail development will increase opportunities for a healthy, thriving community that is equitable and inclusive,” said Stephanie Swepson Twitty, CEO of Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation.
The ribbon cutting ceremony and opening day of celebrations will be held at the Old Fort Gateway Trailhead, 1500 State Rd. 1227 (Curtis Creek Road), Old Fort, NC.
Car parks open at 12:30pm for events starting at 1pm. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be at 1:30pm and the trails will officially open at 2:00pm for walking, biking, running and horseback riding. After enjoying the new trails, join the Collaborative for cold drinks at Hillman Beer in downtown Old Fort starting at 4:00 p.m
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