Frequently Asked Questions

What is a greenway?

Greenways are linear natural spaces, often containing trails, that link parks, nature preserves, cultural features and historic sites with each other for recreation, transportation and conservation purposes.  The Carolina Thread Trail initiative is an effort to encourage 15 counties in the south-central piedmont of North Carolina and the north-central South Carolina to create a large, interconnected trail and greenway system.

What will The Thread Trail link together?

  • 2.3 Million People
  • More than 40 Destinations
  • 7,300 Square Miles
  • 1,500 Miles of Trail
  • 15 Counties
  • 2 States

How will the Carolina Thread Trail benefit our communities?


Trail Benefits

Click to Enlarge

The Thread Trail will:

  • Support economic prosperity by attracting and retaining new employers to the area
  • Promote tourism
  • Foster the joining of diverse communities
  • Serve as an alternative means of transportation
  • Encourage healthy lifestyles
  • Aid in clean air and water preservation
  • Promote permanent conservation of nature and wildlife habitats
  • Increase awareness and visitation of cultural and historical venues
  • Create a sustainable Carolinas legacy for generations to come
  • Educate our children and connect them to nature

What counties are part of the Thread Trail?

In North Carolina:

  • Anson
  • Cabarrus
  • Catawba
  • Cleveland
  • Gaston
  • Iredell
  • Lincoln
  • Mecklenburg
  • Rowan
  • Stanly
  • Union

In South Carolina:

  • Cherokee
  • Chester
  • Lancaster
  • York

What is the role of the Carolina Thread Trail effort?

The Carolina Thread Trail team plays three supporting roles to its communities:

  • providing a vision for a system of connected trails and greenways throughout the 15-county region and bringing communities together to share this connected vision.
  • creating trail building capacity through education and technical resources
  • helping communities access funding through a catalytic grants program and by advocating for other public and private funding.

Who is leading the effort?

Communities who have elected to participate in the Thread Trail throughout the project’s 15 county footprint are leading the trail building effort, with support from the Thread Trail’s staff and leadership. Catawba Lands Conservancy is the lead agency for the Carolina Thread Trail, with Foundation For The Carolinas providing support as a philanthropic partner. Philip Blumenthal, Director of the Blumenthal Foundation and Wildacres Retreat, is chair of our Governing Board, which provides fundraising and governance leadership.

How long will the Thread Trail take to build?

The Thread Trail will develop over the next few decades as individual trail and greenway projects, guided by the regional vision, grow together. The Carolina Thread Trail provides funding and expertise to accelerate individual efforts and facilitate connections. . There is no exact completion date, however, because the project timeline depends on local initiative and support.

Which trails will become the Carolina Thread Trail?

Trails that have been identified in the Carolina Thread Trail master plan, which is the blueprint that will guide the development of the interconnected trail network. The master plan identifies both pre-existing trails and greenways that have been added to the Thread Trail, as well as future routes that will link together individual trails.

Not all trails in a community are part of the Thread Trail; only those paths that serve as key connections between attractions, parks and points of interest as determined by the master plan will be included.Additionally, new trails are constantly being built by the Carolina Thread Trail and communities to both expand the network and connect existing segments.

You can view the master plan for each county under the ‘Local Connections’ tab.

How do I find a Thread Trail?

The Carolina Thread Trail has 240 miles of open trails, ready for you to enjoy. To find the trails that best fit your interest, use our interactive online map.

The map allows you to search and filter the trail network based on location, trail uses, and difficulty. Click on an individual trail for a detailed description, including an address, contact information, and list of points of interest. The interactive online map is also mobile friendly, so you can find trails near you and pinpoint your position on the trail- all on your phone!

How is the Thread Trail funded?

The Thread Trail is financed with both private donations and public funding. Our model, based on other greenway projects in the US, awards grants from an initial pool of private funding to local communities. These catalytic grants provide the incentive for planning, design, land acquisition, and construction of trails, and often help communities leverage additional funds from state and federal sources.

While the Carolina Thread Trail provides grants, local communities accept responsibility to fund their individual trail projects through  community funds, public grants, and other fundraising strategies. Click here to see how you can help us build more trails.

Is the Carolina Thread Trail safe for my neighborhood?

Safety along greenways and trails is of the highest importance. There is little evidence to support the fear that these natural spaces encourage criminal activity. In fact, research suggests that greenways, trails and converted rail beds may actually discourage crime and vandalism in many areas. These areas no longer serve as places for people to hang out, dump trash, vandalize or engage in criminal activity because there is too great a risk that they will be discovered. To read more about safety on trails, click here.

If you experience any safety concerns or unusual wildlife encounter, please contact the Stewardship office at (704) 376-2556 ext 209.

How will land be acquired for The Thread Trail?

A guiding principle of the Carolina Thread Trail is “respect for the land and respect for the land owners.” As such, the Carolina Thread Trail cannot practice eminent domain and supports the construction of trails only on public lands or property owned by willing landholders. This includes developers who want to offer this amenity to their neighborhoods.  Click here for more information regarding land acquisition.

What is the significance of the Carolina Thread Trail name?

compass-jsThe 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 connects Carolinians for generations to come.

The 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.

Are there other regions where this kind of trail has been successfully built?

There are very successful, large-scale trail systems in St. Louis, Indianapolis, Detroit and several other communities across the U.S. Nearby, the Palmetto Trail traverses South Carolina, from the mountains of Oconee State Park in the west to the Atlantic Ocean just north of Charleston. Additionally, the Mountains to Sea Trail traverses several large sections of North Carolina between Clingman’s Dome in the West all the way to Jockey’s Ridge State Park near the Atlantic Ocean.