About the State Trail
Authorized in 2015, the Fonta Flora State Trail will connect Morganton to Asheville with a hiking and biking trail. Included in the trail is a loop around Lake James. The trail will traverse Lake James State Park, part of Pisgah National Forest and Fonta Flora County Park in Burke County. It will also connect to the Overmountain Victory State Trail and the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail. When complete, it will be approximately 100 miles long.
It is named after the local settlement of African American sharecroppers, whose homes were flooded when the Catawba River was dammed to create Lake James.
The feather icon of this state trail was inspired by our national bird, the bald eagle. Artwork incorporating the feather has been used along the trail and at the trailheads, particularly in Burke County.
While section sponsors build, maintain, and manage their section of a state trail — deciding on location, design, surface, permitted uses and amenities — N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation staff are responsible for the overall corridor planning and coordination, as well as providing guidance and assistance to all section sponsors.
The mission of the Friends of Fonta Flora State Trail is to bring together communities and volunteers to build, maintain, and promote the Fonta Flora State Trail. The goal is to complete the FFST in 10 years.
To volunteer with trail building or trail maintenance, please contact Shane Prisby, operations manager for the Burke County Community Development, at 828-764-9034.
About Partner Organizations
The legislation that created the Complete the Trails program requires that funds be distributed by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation to a nonprofit partner for each trail. To be the recognized partner, an organization must have a Memorandum of Understanding with the Division and an approved 3- to 5-year plan for deploying the funds to develop the state trail.
As part of the Complete the Trail Program, each state trail partner organization was required to submit a five-year plan, outlining priorities and goals until 2027 for their trail. Excerpts from the plan are outlined below.
Capacity Building Fund Projects:
Friends of the Fonta Flora State Trail will use the capacity building funds to pay approximately 40 percent of the salary of their full-time Executive Director over fiscal years 2022 to 2023 and 2023 to 2024. It is only through the support of members and local municipalities that they are able to complete this full-time position funding.
Priority CTP Projects:
- Canal Bridge Project (0.2 mile): This proposed bridge project will connect the completed/existing portion of trail in Lake James State Park from Paddy's Creek access to Catawba River access. FFST will run across the bridge with a concrete sidewalk plan, approved by the N.C. Department of Transportation. Canal Bridge is a crucial connector for ensuring FFST users can safely navigate traffic, and it will connect the two sections of the state park with the state trail. The project will be a partnership with the Overmountain Victory North Carolina State Trail Friends group.
- Commerce Street to Copper Ridge Trailhead (1.27 miles): This proposed trail construction will join Commerce Street in downtown Old Fort to the existing Copper Ridge Trailhead. This project will be a partnership with Foothills Conservancy of NC and Dogwood Health Trust.
- Copper Ridge to Point Lookout (0.65 mile): This proposed trail construction will join the existing Copper Ridge segment to the Point Lookout segment. This project is in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and Dogwood Health Trust.
- River Ridge Complex Project (1.29 miles): This proposed trail construction will be the inaugural FFST trail in the city of Asheville, connecting the state trail to the Asheville Unpaved series of hubs and neighborhood connectors, a mixed-use unpaved trail system. This project will be a partnership with Asheville Unpaved and the City of Asheville.
- 1780/Enclave (2.2 miles): This proposed trail construction will connect existing FFST trail ending at Campbell's Trace to the McDowell County line. This project will be a partnership with OVNCST-Friends.
|Estimated cost for all FFST priority projects
|Estimated cost for all FFST projects
|CTP allocation for FFST
Banner photo by N.C. DPR staff: Fonta Flora State Trail bridge and trail on Long Arm peninsula