The Carolina Thread Trail

by | Feb 27, 2023 | Greenspace

What is the Carolina Thread Trail?

The Carolina Thread Trail is a regional network of trails that connects 2.9 million people in 15 counties in North and South Carolina. The Carolina Thread Trail is an example of unprecedented regional collaboration that works to connect people and communities to nature and each other through its 1,610 miles of trails, greenways and blueways.  How do I know this to be true?  Because this explanation came straight from the source, carolinathreadtrail.org.  The Carolina Thread Trail was launched in 2007 and continues to grow.

Another interesting fact that I learned from their extremely comprehensive website is the story behind their name and the logo.  “The name, Carolina Thread Trail, is rooted in our region’s rich textile heritage.  This intricate network of trails is weaving together people, communities, and nature into a tapestry that will connect our region for generations to come.  The Carolina Thread Trail logo was inspired by one of the oldest, traditional quilt patterns, the Eight-Pointed Star. In quilts, a variety of shaped and colored fabrics come together to form a vibrant and harmonious whole—the individual pieces held together simply by thread. Additionally, this compass-like symbol, with North and South accentuated to represent both Carolinas, is symbolic of adventure and exploration.”

The Thread Trail Comes to Rowan County

In 2013 the town of Landis received a grant from the Thread Trail on behalf of all of Rowan County.  The grant was to develop a master greenway plan that would identify all the Thread Trail corridors.  A steering committee was formed that same year, and a master plan was created that would connect notable areas, such as historic downtown Salisbury and Dan Nicholas Park, to improve the long term mental and physical health of Rowan County residents and visitors. Once the master plan of the Thread Trail was accepted and publicly acknowledged, Rowan County was eligible to receive grants from the Thread Trail. Grants are endowed quarterly to all eligible nonprofit organizations and communities to aid with planning trail corridors, construction, land acquisitions, and trail amenities.  Currently more than 4.5 million dollars have been granted to communities throughout the region.

We are fortunate that by extending the Carolina Thread Trail, our county has created a legacy that will help with our local land conservation, allowing the residents of Rowan County to have a healthier lifestyle, and to allow both residents and visitors alike the opportunity to enjoy our history, diversity, and culture.

Carolina Thread Trails in Rowan County

There are currently numerous trails and greenways designated as Carolina Thread Trails in Rowan County.  What’s my favorite part?  I can track my progress, and so can you!  Create a free account here with Carolina Thread Trails to find trails, log your progress, and make notes about your specific experience, the date, distance traveled, and mode of travel.  You can even earn badges!  Search here for a trail.  You can search by location, difficulty level, accessibility, trail surface, and lots more, like whether it has water views or is especially good for bird watching!  I plan to start with the trails right here in Rowan County listed below.  I hope some of the photos, all courtesy of carolinathreadtrail.org, will inspire you to join me on this adventure!

Granite Lake Park Trail – 0.4 miles one way

143 N. Salisbury Avenue, Granite Quarry, NC 28146

Carolina Thread Trail connects Granite Lake Park to Centennial Nature Trail in the town of Granite Quarry.  One of the most interesting facts about this park is that while it is great for bicycles, running, walking, and dog walking, it is known for its ability to actively encourage children and their imaginations.  This trail is perfect to look for bugs.  People paint rocks and hide them for the children to find, then they hide them for the next person to discover.

Granite Lake Park opened in June 2007 and consists of paved walking trails, a shelter with bathrooms, a playground area, a lake covering an acre with two piers, fish, and the beloved Granite Lake Ducks.  The park is a landmark for the citizens to meet, celebrate, and play.

Granite Civic Park Trail – 0.3 miles one way

202 W Peeler St, Salisbury, NC  28146

The Granite Civic Park Trail encircles a 5.25-acre recreational park that provides countless hours of enjoyment for the community. Granite Civic Park is a small neighborhood park with tennis courts, baseball fields, and a basketball court. The Town of Granite Quarry’s website states that “The sole purpose of Granite Civic Park has always been, and will continue to be, to provide the citizens of Granite Quarry a safe and enjoyable place to play and fellowship with friends and family.”

Dan Nicholas Park Trail – 2.0 mile loop

6800 Bringle Ferry Rd, Salisbury, NC  28146

Dan Nicholas Park is home to a campground, lake, train, Hayden’s Carousel, the Miner Moose Gen Mine, aquarium and nature center, animal habitats, and more.  The Dan Nicholas Park Trail begins at Lake Murtis and connects to the Persimmon Branch Trail.  The park is comprised of 450-acres where visitors can rent cabins.  The Carolina Thread Trail winds around Lake Murtis where paddle boats are rented during the park’s season. It connects to the Persimmons Branch Trail which is known for its bird watching opportunities. While there, take time to enjoy the Wildlife Adventure area where you will find animals like a black bear, bald eagle, and various foxes. There is a small fee for this area. As with all outdoor attractions, please make sure to check to make sure it is not the off season.

Royal Giants Park Trail – 0.4 miles one way

105 S. Long Street, East Spencer, NC  28039

The Royal Giant Park Trail runs through the newly renovated park in East Spencer. A community that was originally known as the Southern City, was established because of the development of the Southern Railway, and is now known as East Spencer. This family centric town has a small but important segment of the Carolina Thread Trail that leads to the ball fields, picnic areas, the splash park, and corn hole court.

The Salisbury Greenway – 4.1 mile loop

217 S. Main Street, Salisbury, NC  28144

The Salisbury Greenway provides connections between recreational areas, parks, and natural areas. Through its construction of the greenway, the Salisbury Parks and Recreation Department fulfills its mission to provide “quality leisure services through safe, attractively maintained parks and diversified programs that meet the current and future needs of the community.”

The Forest Hill Park, located along the greenway, is a 9.4-acre park that is conveniently located and provides a greenway connector between Memorial Park, Knox Middle School, and Overton Elementary School. The connector features an attractive bridge with inviting walking and sitting areas.

Kelsey Scott Park is an additional destination along the greenway. There is a railroad bridge that dates back to 1856, a softball field, two basketball courts, and a 9-hole disc golf course in the 21.7-acre park. According to the Center for the Environment website, “Greenways like the one in Salisbury allow us to move in communities and provide for the more active and environmentally conscientious population that we see emerging.”

Gold Hill Rail Park – 2.2 miles one way

735 St. Stephens Church Road, Gold Hill, NC  28071

The Gold Hill Rail Trail is a protected railroad right-of-way developed by the Three Rivers Land Trust in partnership with the Historic Gold Hill and Mines Foundation, Inc. It joins other trails developed along the old mining roads throughout the 70-acre park to create a scenic leisurely hiking, walking, jogging, and biking trail.  Do not wander off the trails, as they pass through private property in some areas.

The trail connects the historic town of Gold Hill, a restored mining town, to the original Narrow Gauge Railroad Spur Line of the 1880s.  This narrow-gauge rail line was built to transport gold, gold refining equipment, and supplies for the New Gold Hill Ltd. Mining Company.  Mine shafts, a powder house, a steam engine and boiler, and a stone jail are some of the historic structures to be enjoyed along the Gold Hill Rail Trail.

Ellis Park – 0.4 miles one way

3541 Old Mocksville Road, Salisbury, NC 28144

This 26-acre park is a truly inclusive park.   The playground features accessible swings, musical instruments, slides, a merry-go-round, and more. The Therapeutic Division for Rowan County Parks and Recreation is also located at Ellis Park, which is a program to make recreation available for individuals with disabilities. Across the street from the ball fields and accessible playground, you will find the continuation of the Ellis Park fitness trail.  The Carolina Thread Trail segment starts near number seven of the disc golf course and follows through the course past the equestrian center. The trail includes surfaces of gravel, crushed stone, natural surfaces, and mowed grass.  Pets are welcome on a leash.

Salisbury Community Park Trail – 0.9 miles one way

217 S. Main Street, Salisbury, NC  28144

This Community Park and Athletic Complex encompasses over 300 acres of land.  In addition to the hiking trails and extensive athletic fields and facilities, the park offers almost 7-miles of mountain biking trails, where a 0.9 mile section is designated as part of the Carolina Thread Trail.  The park offers a beautiful lake that is a trout fisherman’s dream, and is stocked with rainbow, brook, and brown trout.  Surrounding this peaceful pond are picnic decks is three picnic areas and three playground structures.

Lake Corriher Wilderness Trail – 0.7 miles one way

265 Tranquil Lake Dr, China Grove, NC  28023

Enjoyed by many residents, this wilderness area has over five miles of trails that go through the 98-acre wilderness as well as around the lakes.  The area is home to two lakes, Lake Landis and Lake Corriher.  The Carolina Thread Trail portion encircles Lake Landis. Campsite rentals and fishing passes are available for a fee at the General Store in Landis.  While fishing with your permit, try to hook largemouth and smallmouth bass and crappies.  This park also offers kayaking and disc golf.

Bull Hole Park Trail – 0.3 miles one way

645 Erwin Temple Church Rd., Woodleaf, NC  27054

There is a beautiful stone dam located in the Bull Hole Park, originally built by the Erwin Cotton Mill #3.  Construction on the mill began in 1898; the mill was fully operational by 1901.  This dam creates natural beach areas as well as a waterfall. The 30-acre park is located in both Rowan and Davie Counties. The easy hike leads visitors to the banks of the Yadkin River.

The Bull Hole Park Trail is a short natural surface trail that leads to the banks of the South Yadkin River through the Bull Hole River Park. It features an impressive stone dam, a sandy beach deposited there by a flood, and good fishing in the spring and fall. Bring your bathing suit to swim and ride the little rapids.  You’ll want to wear an old pair of sneakers in the river because of the granite bedrock bottom known for its slippery moss. Please note that there is no lifeguard on duty and swimming is at your own risk.

The Carolina Thread Trail Resources

Carolina Thread Trail                            Gold Hill Rail Trail                                                                                    Center for the Environment

Granite Lake Park Trail                        Ellis Park Trail                                                                                           Salisbury Post Article

Granite Civic Park Trail                        Salisbury Community Park Trail

Dan Nicholas Park Trail                        Lake Corriher Wilderness Trail

Royal Giants Park Trail                         Bull Hole Park Trail

The Salisbury Greenway Catawba Lands Conservancy

About The Author

Colleen Smiley

I am a proud graduate of Catawba College, and I also have my state Environmental Educators certification. I love spending time outdoors with my family and friends. I enjoy kayaking, hiking, boating, cooking, and entertaining. If there is a live theatre production going on, I am there. I think you can find beauty anywhere you look here in Rowan County. Life is an adventure, and I can’t wait to share my love of everything green, sustainable, or environmental with all of you. Everywhere we look there really are some amazing places to see and discover in Rowan County. I’m excited about the chance to meet so many people and discover the sites of our beautiful county with all of you. It’s Your Rowan!