Old Fort Trails Project connects the community to Public Lands

Release Date: Oct 26, 2020

Nebo, NC - October 26, 2020 - Over the past year, partners from local nonprofits, recreation user groups, businesses, government agencies, and funders, have come together to support increased access to recreation opportunities in and around the town of Old Fort, in McDowell County, NC.

As part of this collaboration, the Pisgah National Forest's Grandfather District is excited to initiate the Old Fort Trails Project. The Grandfather District is partnering with the G5 Trail Collective, a local non-profit supporting backcountry trails on the Grandfather District, and People on the Move For Old Fort, a Black-led community collaborative that engages residents in community building efforts that result in a more inclusive and equitable town.

Funded with over $140,000 in initial grants raised by these partners, we are launching into an analysis of the project area for construction of over 20 miles of new multi-use trails in the National Forests lands surrounding Old Fort. Key financial partners for this project include People on the Move for Old Fort, Camp Grier, the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Trail Solutions, Kitsbow, the McDowell County Tourism and Development Authority, and Mill Creek Properties.

To kick-off the planning effort, the US Forest Service, along with the G5 Trail Collective and People on the Move Old Fort, is inviting the public to provide input on what kind of trails they would like to see.

Over the next several months we will be collecting feedback, working with trail designers, and proposing options for the trail system. Let us know what types of trail experiences, uses, connections, and features you are excited about. We are looking to improve and add to the concept trail map that was built by partners from the hiking, biking, and equestrian user groups.

There are 4 ways to make your voice heard in this initial planning stage:

  • Join a live zoom on Wednesday October 28, 2020 from 5:30-6:30pm to hear the plan, chat with the US Forest Service and partners, and make comments.
    • Zoom link (hosted by equitable community strategies): Click Here 
    • Meeting ID: 845 6958 4680, Passcode: 122547
  • Visit the Old Fort Ride House at 59 Commerce Street to view a large printed planning map and submit a comment in person (and take home your own printed copy of the map) 

Since 2017, volunteers have been working to improve existing trails, and partners have been dreaming big about what could be in Old Fort. With the arrival of the Fonta Flora State Trail to the area, which will eventually connect Asheville to Morganton, trail development has been a big focus in Old Fort. In 2019, the formation of an equitable development group in Old Fort allowed partners to capitalize on this momentum with a focus on developing strategies for equitable access to trail opportunities.

Over the next month we will be inviting the public to participate in guiding the project. In December, we will be identifying trail locations on the ground. And in January the US Forest Service will formally present the proposed trail system plan to the public for comment.

"Being right next to Pisgah National Forest is something that makes the Town of Old Fort special, but many of the surrounding trails are hard to access," said Lisa Jennings, Recreation and Trails Program Manager for the Grandfather District. "With this community-driven planning effort, we hope to build trails that will better connect our public lands to Old Fort, and better serve the needs of the growing use of outdoor spaces in Western NC for all users."

We invite you to join us in dreaming big for trails in Old Fort, NC!

Map for Old Fort Proposed Trails