Thursday, July 17, 2014 was a historic day in North Carolina’s history. There’s almost 100% chance you didn’t hear about it because the full effects are still years away. But on that day, Secretary Tata from NCDOT, Secretary Decker from Commerce, Secretary Wos from DHHS, and Deputy Secretary Brad Ives from DENR met with the N.C. Trails Coalition. They talked about what we, individuals in the trails and greenways community, have known for decades: North Carolina is poised to become the No. 1 destination in the U.S. for trails and greenways.
We have always known it intuitively. We love our state with:
- The most beautiful beaches by far
- More than 40 mountain peaks above 6,000 ft., more than any state by far on the east coast
- Parts of the mountain region getting more than 100 inches of rain a year, creating a biodiversity that equals the rain forest of the Amazon
- The most diverse species of flora, fauna, amphibians and shellfish of almost any place on the planet
That’s why to us, our great state has always been an emerald in the rough ready to be discovered and explored for the wonders it holds.
We already have a magnificent trails system here.
- The Mountains to Sea Trail with more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails
- The Carolina Thread Trail as the most ambitious urban trail system in the country in Mecklenburg County and encompasses 11 counties
- The East Coast Greenway that spans from Maine to Miami of which the greatest number of miles complete right here in N.C.
- The Triangle with one of the most impressive and growing greenway systems in the country including 140 miles in Raleigh alone
Friends, when you think about a firsthand communion with some of the most magnificent natural areas in the world, you need to go no further than North Carolina to find your dream. When you think about economic development, tourism, recreation, transportation, public health; branding our state as the “Great Trails State” is truly a no brainer.
When you think what this could mean for rural N.C. from an economic development perspective, it’s huge. Trail-based tourism bring 100,000 people to the Virginia Creeper Trail each year. This has transformed a small town of 1,000 into a community which now has 10 bike rental businesses, 9 B&B’s, 5 national hotel chains and 27 restaurants. Friends, we are about to turn the Virginia Creeper Trail into last year’s destination.
North Carolina has become the new destination for those looking to commune with nature for a weekend or a lifetime. We have literally thousands of miles to be explored from the mountains to the coast. Our Secretary’s of NCDOT, DEHR, DHHS, and Commerce now get it, and in a huge way. The Sectary’s have given the green light to go forth and become what will soon be known as North Carolina, “The Great Trails State.” It’s truly a great day for North Carolina.
To see presentation click here.