The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Nov 15, 2012

Communities connect across the Carolina Thread Trail

Posted by Susan Patterson

Above, from l to r: Richard Rogers, Executive Director of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Frank Bragg, Clean Water Trustee and former Catawba Lands Conservancy board member, John Woods, Mayor of Davidson, Jim Garges, Mecklenburg Park and Recreation Director, Mike Mabry, Carolina Thread Trail board member, Ruth G. Shaw, Carolina Thread Trail board member and founding Chair

The Carolina Thread Trail celebrates two milestones this Saturday, Nov. 17 – its fifth anniversary and 100th mile of trail. As locals call it, "The Thread" is a planned 15-county, two-state network of trails and natural areas.

Knight Foundation was an early supporter. While the trail provides physical places for people and communities to connect, the planning process has brought together residents, elected officials and others to collaborate in new ways. Their work together has helped develop greenway master plans in 14 of the 15 counties touched by the trail with more than 1,400 miles of potential trails identified.

The trail was launched on Nov. 9, 2007. Its goal is to link 15 counties: Anson, Cabarrus, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly and Union counties in North Carolina, and Cherokee, Chester, Lancaster and York counties in South Carolina. Organizers say the trails would connect the area’s 2 million people to regional destinations, parks, towns, neighborhoods and conservation corridors.

“There are 100 miles of trail that people are out and using now. We think that’s a great start, although it’s only the beginning,” said Ann Browning, Carolina Thread Trail project director at Catawba Lands Conservancy.

But why a regional network? “It’s made even more valuable by connecting to their neighbors. If you look at things on a regional scale, you get communities connecting to each other,” she said.

On Saturday, trail organizers will unveil a special 100th mile marker and they’ll also announce a social media photo contest.

By Susan Patterson, program director/Charlotte at Knight Foundation.

Related: "Carolina Thread Trail to celebrate 100th mile, 5 years," on

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