The Haw River Trail is a 70-mile (110 km) long multi-use trail being built through the North Carolina Piedmont. The trail follows the path of the Haw River from Haw River State Park on the Rockingham/Guilford County line to Jordan Lake State Recreation Area.
Surface trails for hiking, mountain biking, birdwatching, nature lovers, and horse riding are planned for the some or all of the Haw River Trail. For over a third of the stretch of the Haw River Trail, from Haw River State Park to the confluence with Cane Creek in Alamance County, it will combine with the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST). The MST begins at Clingmans Dome on the State’s western border and terminates at Jockey's Ridge on the Outer Banks. The MST was recently re-routed to follow the Haw River, with the input of Alan de Hart and 30 others under the direction of State Trails Director Darrell MacBane.
Currently, over 10 miles (16 km) of ground trail in locations including Haw River State Park, Swepsonville River Park, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area and the newly acquired Glencoe to Carolina Mill segment (Burlington).
Swepsonville had the honor of being first trail segment designated. Mayor Herring received a call from the MST meeting participants, as they had just voted to reroute the trail through his town. He put in the first request for MST designation, and the town park became the first on the Haw River with a MST designation in 2008, with the help of the State Trails Coordinator, Darrell McBane.
The Haw River Paddle Trail is a part of the Haw River Trail providing access for canoeing and kayaking. The paddle trail has 10 access sites in Alamance County to include Altamahaw Ossipee, Shallow Ford Natural Area, Indian Valley Golf Club, Glencoe Paddle Access, Great Alamanace Creek on Hwy 87, Graham Paddle Access/Hwy 54, Saxapahaw Lake, Greensboro-Chapel Hill Road, and 4 accesses in Chatham County and 4 in Guilford County. Formal accesses are regularly maintained and patrolled and provide paddlers with the assurance that public access rights have been legally secured. Informal access sites are those that have been traditionally used by paddlers.
The Haw River Trail attempts to combine recreation and conservation goals into one effort. The Haw River Trail Partnership promotes the idea that the Haw River Trail boosts conservation efforts by increasing public awareness for the river and building a consensus for conservation. Simultaneously, the conservation work on the Haw River provides a protected landscape for the Haw River Trail. As of November, 2008, the HRT Partnership has conserved over 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of riverside property and 7,400 feet (2,300 m) of riverbank since 2006. In 2006, an innovative agreement was reached between 10 governmental agencies, referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding, in which the organizations agreed to work together for the development of the Haw River Trail and the conservation of its land and waters. A coordinator position is also funded by the cities of Burlington and Graham, as Alamance County to further conservation and recreation efforts on the Haw River.
Burlington is a city in Alamance and Guilford counties in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is the principal city of the Burlington, North Carolina Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Alamance County, in which most of the city is located, and is a part of the Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point CSA. The population was 50,042 at the 2010 census, which makes Burlington the 17th largest city in North Carolina. The Metropolitan Statistical Area population was over 150,000 in 2010.Haw River
The Haw River is a tributary of the Cape Fear River, approximately 110 mi (177 km) long, that is entirely contained in north central North Carolina in the United States. It was first documented as the "Hau River" by John Lawson, an English botanist, in his 1709 book "A New Voyage to Carolina." The name is shortened from Saxapahaw, from the Catawban /sak'yápha:/, "piedmont, foothill", from /sak/, "hill", plus /yápha:/, "step". The river gives its name to a small town that formed on its banks.Mountains-to-Sea Trail
The Mountains-to-Sea State Trail (MST) is a long-distance trail for hiking and backpacking, that traverses North Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. The trail's western endpoint is at Clingman's Dome, where it connects to the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Its eastern endpoint is in Jockey's Ridge State Park on the tallest sand dune on the east coast. The trail is envisioned as a scenic backbone of an interconnected trail system spanning the state. As such, the trail's route attempts to connect as many trail systems and natural scenic areas as practicable. A little over half of the trail is complete in multiple segments across the state.
The Mountains-to-Sea State Park Trail was made an official land-based unit of the state park system by the General Assembly on August 2, 2000. Since that time, the State Trail unit has grown to encompass 691 acres (280 ha) in three tracts and 87 acres (35 ha) in conservation easements. Each of these tracts is leased to local governments for management as nature parks, under the guidance of the NC Division of Parks and Recreation (NCDPR). The vast majority of the foot trail is located on lands not directly managed as part of a state park unit.
The trail is a part of the North Carolina State Trails System, which is a section of NCDPR, and as of January 2019, 669 miles (1,077 km) of trail has been designated as a part of the MST by NCDPR.The segments of MST along the Blue Ridge Parkway were designated as National Recreation Trail in 2005.
The MST has the distinction of being the highest elevation long-distance trail in the eastern United States as it crosses Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet (2,037 m).