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Cabarrus Magazine

The Carolina Thread Trail: Not Just a Place to Get Outside, Also an Economic Catalyst

Feb 07, 2018 01:30PM ● By Melanie Heisinger
The Carolina Thread Trail is 1,590-mile planned network of connected trails, greenways and blueways (water trails). The concept for the Thread Trail began in 2005 when the Foundation For The Carolinas and a group of 40 regional leaders met and came up with the original plan for a 500-mile network of connected trails. When each of the counties created their master plan, they were so excited about the idea that it ended up tripling what was originally envisioned.
 
This project is an example of unprecedented regional collaboration, encompassing 15 counties and 73 municipalities between North and South Carolina. The organization was officially established in 2007 with Catawba Lands Conservancy as the lead agency. Since then, over 260 miles of trails and 170 miles of blueway are complete and open to the public.
 
The Carolina Thread Trail is not just a place to get outside, but it is also an economic catalyst and a unique way to create connections between communities and the nearly 2.3 million people in the region.

We got in touch with Allie Schwartz, Marketing and Communications Director for Catawba Lands Conservancy, to learn more about these trails and their goals.
 

What's something we absolutely need to know about the trails? 

All Carolina Thread Trail segments are free and open to the public. You can find all of our trails at www.carolinathreadtrailmap.org.
 
Each section of trail is managed by different governments or municipalities, making it public property. Another thing that is interesting to know about the trail is that the county planners use the Thread Trail master plan to work developers in their area in order to ensure that the plan can be carried out in their area, no matter what.
 
One of the most important things about the Carolina Thread Trail is that, not only is it creating a way for people to connect and get outside, but it simultaneously preserving our open greenspaces. With over 260 miles of trail complete, the Thread Trail has conserved around 30,000 acres of natural space.
 

I noticed there are plenty of programs offered! What's one that we should be most excited about? 

There are a multitude of activities on different segments of trails and different properties conserved by Catawba Lands Conservancy. One that has been very popular is our monthly “bike with Bret” sunset ride. Bret Baronak is our community coordinator and has a wealth of knowledge about the Thread Trail and what is to come, making rides with him incredibly interesting as he can answer most every question you could have about the Carolina Thread Trail.
 
Another great program is the Star Party, co-hosted by Catawba Lands Conservancy and the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club. 
 

I saw that there is now a Pale Ale dedicated to the CTT! When/how did that partnership come about? 

Blue Blaze Brewing, who has been an amazing partner, approached us about creating a beer that would benefit the Thread Trail. They began in the spring of 2017, sold it on draft only until the fall when they did their first run of cans. These sold out just before the end of the year and our staff went to the brewery last week to help out with the canning of the next batch.
 
This partnership is great; Blue Blaze donates 10% of profits from this beer to us throughout the year, and it is a really great marketing tool for us. Their brewery is located at the end of the Irwin Creek/Stuart Creek Greenway, a segment of the Thread Trail, and when this trail extends it will connect Uptown to the US National Whitewater Center, and everyone who uses it will pass Blue Blaze on their way.

Blue Blaze is very excited about the future of this trail and what it will mean for them, but also has a general love for trails and supports the mission of the Thread Trail, so this partnership was a very natural fit.
 
 

If someone becomes a member, what's something we should know?  

 

Our membership program is a grassroots way to support the Thread Trail! As a member, you are joining us in our effort to expand our regional trail network. You will receive a Carolina Thread Trail t-shirt, have access to exclusive member programs and get the inside scoop on the Thread Trail and Catawba Lands Conservancy by receiving our printed newsletter.

Memberships start at $50 to become a Trekker Trailhead. Visit carolinathreadtrail.org/donate for more membership information.
 

What are the future goals for the CTT? 

The ultimate goal is to complete and connect all 1,590 miles of trails in the master plan. However, the near term goal for the organization is to focus on completing the 140-miles North/South Spine, which stretches from Statesville, North Carolina to Great Falls, South Carolina. Overall, a longer trail is more attractive and will be more highly used, so another short-term goal is to extend the amount of connected trail segments across the Thread Trail footprint.
 

Anything else we should know?

The most interesting fact about trails is that trails and greenways are among the most highly requested amenities in the Carolinas when people are looking for a place to live. They not only create places to get outside and exercise, but they link communities, schools, parks and special places, and can also be used as alternative transportation.
 

To keep up with all the fun things happening with the Carolina Thread Trail, you can visit their website, give them a call at (704) 376-2556, or follow them on Facebook.

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