There are many ways to enjoy the beauty of our natural world here in the foothills of North Carolina.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway has drawn millions of visitors from around the world to western North Carolina over the past 75+ years. The parkway was completed in 1987, when the last stretch was laid and the spectacular viaduct built around Grandfather Mountain.
As the local land trust for McDowell, Burke, and Caldwell counties, Foothills Conservancy leads on parkway preservation opportunities with interested landowners in these counties. We work in partnership with other regional land trusts serving different sections of the parkway, as well as with Conservation Trust for North Carolina, which coordinates protection efforts along the length of the parkway in North Carolina, to insure that the road’s scenic vistas are forever conserved.
The Overmountain Victory Trail
The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (OVT) is the path taken by the Overmountain Men as they marched to the Battle of Kings Mountain, the turning point of the American Revolutionary War.
The trail network consists of a 330-mile corridor, including a 70-mile branch from Elkin, North Carolina, that joins with the main route in Morganton, which has been selected as the site of the trail’s future headquarters and visitor center. Fifty-seven miles of the OVT are officially developed for public use on either public land or private lands with willing landowners. Protection efforts continue on the remaining sections. The historic trail passes through many of Foothills Conservancy’s protected lands and through four of the conservancy’s eight counties.
Three of North Carolina’s Scenic Byways cross Foothills Conservancy’s eight-county region: the Pisgah Loop, circling the Linville Gorge; the Upper Yadkin Way through Happy Valley in Caldwell County; and South Mountains Scenery crossing upper Rutherford and Cleveland counties.
These byways are designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the N.C. DOT. Supported by USDOT Scenic Byways grant funds, Foothills Conservancy has completed protection plans for these three scenic byways to guide our outreach to owners of lands with the highest scenic values. Successes to date include a conservation easement on a scenic 102-acre farm along the Pisgah Loop and two historic farms along the Yadkin Way. Protecting the rural and scenic character along these byways helps to insure that the many thousands of tourists who travel these roads continue to come back and benefit the region’s economy in years to come.
Carolina Thread Trail
Foothills Conservancy is assisting with the creation of the ambitious Carolina Thread Trail (CTT) in Cleveland, Lincoln and Catawba counties. In concept, the CTT, which was launched in 2007, will radiate from Charlotte across 15 North and South Carolina counties in the greater Charlotte Metro Area.
The goal is to achieve a network of connected trails throughout the region which preserve natural corridors and connect people to nature – much like the threads of the former textile industry wove throughout the region. Foothills Conservancy is an active member of the Cleveland and Catawba CTT steering committees.