Building trails that last - Treading toward a more sustainable trail network
Our 2020 Annual Report and 2021 Spring Newsletter are here!
May 25, 2021
Check Out Our Fall-Winter 2021 Newsletter
December 14, 2021
Show all

Building trails that last – how we’re treading toward a more sustainable trail network

So you think you know about sustainability? We’re willing to bet that when you hear the word, trails aren’t what come to mind. Nevertheless, sustainability is a crucial factor in building a trail network that lasts. And lasts.

Connecting people to nature is what we love to do, but we also want to make sure the trails, blueways and greenways in the Carolina Thread Trail network are going to be around for future generations. And with more severe weather events projected (and already happening) here in the Southeast, being thoughtful about where and how we put down trails and infrastructure is more important than ever. Which is why we have started taking measures to locate our trails away from flood-prone land, and to plan ahead for what Mother Nature might throw at us.

At our Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Trail in Iredell County, we just wrapped up a major trail reroute and bridge reconstruction with this exact goal in mind. This trail winds through the Dale Earnhardt Environmental Leadership Campus at Oak Springs, which is a Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council camp. The original trail was located in a flood plain, and featured a boardwalk that was low to the ground. During heavy rain events (occurring more and more often over the last few years) the path would be submerged under water and the boardwalk would dam up the creek. This often made the trail unusable for hikers, and caused extra maintenance work for our team. Over time, the trail would have likely been washed out or destroyed during flooding.

Recognizing these issues, our team got to work. Thanks to our partners at the Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council and camp, our volunteers, staff and some generous donors, we were able to build a 0.37-mile trail reroute in a location out of the floodplain, which will keep this trail sustainable for the long-term. We also replaced the boardwalk with a more secure, long-lasting bridge that is elevated above the creek’s flood stage to keep the water flowing freely.

This enormous project wouldn’t have happened without the support of many people. Staff, volunteers, Trail Masters and generous donors all contributed to help this reroute and bridge replacement come together. We are so grateful for your support!

Trail Partners:

Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council

Dale Earnhardt Environmental Leadership Campus at Oak Springs

Trail Masters:

Larry Humbert

Ben Fricklen

Dave Edwards

Ben DeBow

Mara Malakoff


Bill Mumford

Bob Phillips

Lumber Donation:

Harding Custom Homes

As the Thread Trail builds out 1,600 miles of trail across our 15-county region, ensuring the sustainability of those trails is a priority. Whether that means improving trails that are already open, like Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest, or planning new trails in locations that will endure, we are proud to focus on providing Carolinians with trails that last. And last.

Header photo by Nancy Pierce, others by CLC staff.