Yadkin River Park Trailhead

by | Oct 23, 2023 | Greenspace

SPENCER – It was fitting that the long-awaited Yadkin River Park Trailhead officially opened to the public during the Year of the Trail in North Carolina on September 8, 2023. With support from private donors, grants, and state and local funding, the Town of Spencer’s trailhead project truly represents how a common vision can be achieved through planning and financial collaboration.

The location has much historical significance as a settlement and trading ford for the Native American Sapona Tribe, 16th-century Spanish exploration and travel, the Revolutionary War engagement and escape by Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis and his troops, the railroad bridge and the Battle of York Hill during the Civil War, and the NC Finishing Plant and Village of Yadkin during the Great Depression and World War II. The Trailhead will continue to be a pivotal spot for recreation as the future connection to Downtown Spencer beyond via the Carolina Thread Trail.

“The location of the Yadkin River Trailhead mimics its historical context of serving as an important river crossing and convergence of trails, pathways, highways, and railroads throughout human history,” said Town of Spencer Special Projects Manager Joe Morris. “It provides a connection between the Carolina Thread Trail corridor, the Piedmont Legacy Trail, and the Yadkin River State Trail.”

The Yadkin River Park Trailhead won the 2022 Centralina Improving Quality of Life Small Community Award for utilizing cooperative volunteerism to expand community, recreational, and transportation opportunities. The new trailhead offers seamless connectivity between Rowan County and amenities on the Davidson County side of Yadkin River Park. The park enhances nearby properties by leveraging scenic views of the river, expands recreational opportunities for families, and offers carbon-free transportation alternatives for commuters.


“We are building a model small Town for all of North Carolina, and adding big opportunities to live, play, and work,” said Mayor Jonathan Williams. “We thank the selection committee for recognizing our efforts and are proud to collaborate with an outstanding group of partners on this project.”

Various partners on the project include Benesch, Hall Contracting Corporation, Davidson County, Friends of Rowan, the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation, the Carolina Thread Trail, NC State Parks Recreational Trail Program, and Rowan County. The project was funded through grants and donations from the noted partners, with just under 10 percent of the project funded by the Town allocating $71,000 of its ARPA Supplanted Funds towards this project.

As a next step, the Town has begun a small area planning process for the Yadkin River District. Town leaders believe the eventual redevelopment of Spencer’s riverfront will serve the Town’s residents and surrounding communities as a positive asset for years to come. Completion of the Yadkin River Park Trailhead is the first piece in the development of the Yadkin River District, a proposed mixed-use development of the old NC Finishing Company property, the undeveloped portions of the Yadkin Village, and other properties in the area.

“Working with current property owners, developers, and other stakeholders, this area will become a mecca for recreation and river-based entertainment, businesses, homes, and lifestyles,” said Planning and Zoning Administrator Steve Blount.

The Yadkin River Park Trailhead and further development of the Yadkin River District will include pedestrian and bicycle connections along Salisbury Avenue to the NC Transportation Museum, the Stanback Forest, the new Spencer Downtown Park, and other Spencer and Salisbury amenities, leveraging a variety of points into a regional attraction.