About the State Trail
Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail will provide a connection between Chimney Rock State Park; Lake Lure; Upper Hickory Nut Gorge, including Bearwallow Mountain, Florence Nature Preserve, and Wildcat Rock; and Buffalo Creek Park. Local citizens, visitors, and even wildlife will be able to use this connection to access natural lands while protected from vehicular traffic.
Much of the land that the HGST will be constructed on is protected by both Chimney Rock State Park and Conserving Carolina, a western North Carolina land trust.
The image in the center of the state trail's blaze is a salamander — one of the most endangered vertebrate groups in the worlds. Salamanders are one of many species that depend on conserved land to survive. A full fifth of the world's salamander diversity can be found in the American South, and no state has more salamander species than North Carolina, which has more than 60. As you are on the HGST, or any trail, be considerate to the creatures that call this place home by leaving natural areas undisturbed and not moving rocks from their places in streambeds.
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 Conserving Carolina is to protect, restore, and inspire appreciation of the natural world. They carry out their mission by creating new parks, trails, and greenways; protecting mountains, foothills, rivers, and farms (over 47,000 acres so far); and engaging people in volunteer work, hikes, outings, speaker series, and native plant gardening.
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:
- Paid staff time to support Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail development during 2022 and 2023
- Deliverables to include trail and trailhead maintenance and management, state trail designation application development, grant management, and landowner outreach.
Priority CTP Projects:
- Purchase Youngs Mountain trailhead parcels and trail easements
- Construct a 1.5-mile on Youngs Mountain, including signage and blazing
- Construct new Youngs Mountain trailhead
- Acquire additional tracts for Youngs Mountain Trail
- Construct a 2-mile trail on Youngs Mountain Phase 3 to connect to Buffalo Creek Park / Weed Patch Mountain Trailhead
|Estimated cost for all HGST priority projects||$1,000,000|
|Estimated cost for all HGST projects||$1,600,000|
|CTP allocation for HGST||$358,678|
Banner photo by A. Wallace: Aerial view of Hickory Nut Gorge from a helicopter.