About the State Trail
When constructed, the Northern Peaks State Trail will connect Boone to Elk Knob State Park to West Jefferson and Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. The planning corridor is approximately 40 miles long.
The mountain peaks in the NPST blaze represent the summits of the High County in western North Carolina. The region is home to nationally significant biospheres with unique ecological diversity, and the protection of the area is paramount. The northern peaks are often referred to as the Amphibolite Mountains and include Howard Knob, Elk Knob, Snake Mountain, Three Top Mountain, Phoenix Mountain, Paddy Mountain, and Mount Jefferson. This mountain chain contains the largest concentration of amphibolite substrate in the western North Carolina mountains. Amphibolite rock has a unique mineral composition, producing unusually rich soils, giving rise to a high level of diversity in exotic flora and fauna.
Planned Trail Use
The Blue Ridge Conservancy partners with landowners and local communities to permanently protect natural resources with agricultural, cultural, recreational, ecological, and scenic value in northwest North Carolina.
The conservancy was formed by the merger of the Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust, formed in 1997, and the High Country Conservancy, founded in 1995. Blue Ridge Conservancy has protected over 22,000 acres in its seven-county jurisdiction. And like its two predecessors, BRC continues to partner with private landowners to voluntarily protect farmland and lands with scenic and ecological value using conservation easements. Land protected by conservation easement remains in private ownership, can be sold or passed to heirs, and remains on county tax rolls.
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:
The Blue Ridge Conservancy will increase staff capacity to plan, design, construct, and maintain the Northern Peaks State Trail. A new trails staff position will be created by leveraging additional funds with the capacity building grant. This staff position will be the main contact for the NPST and will partner with N.C. State Parks, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, N.C. Plant Conservation Program, Ashe County, Watauga County, West Jefferson, Jefferson, Boone, and private landowners to create the NPST. The trails coordinator will assist with the biological study, general trail alignment, and managing trail construction projects.
Priority CTP Projects:
- Construct 4 miles of new trail and rehabilitate 2 miles of existing trail at Elk Knob State Park, and construct one new parking area. CTP funds must be leveraged to help with trail construction and parking facilities.
- Construct 8 miles of new trail at Three Top Mountain Game Land, upgrade two existing parking areas, and construct one new parking area. CTP funds must be leveraged to help with trail construction and parking facilities.
- Acquire land along the propose trail corridor from Snake Mountain to Mount Jefferson. CTP funds will be leveraged to help with land acquisitions.
|Estimated cost for all NPST priority projects||$6,200,000|
|Estimated cost for all NPST projects||$6,200,000+|
|CTP allocation for NPST||$286,943|
Banner photo by N.C. DPR staff: Peak autumn color in North Carolina's High Country, the planning corridor for the Northern Peaks State Trail