With 2022 mere months away, the NC General Assembly has given us a reason to look forward to the following year: they recently declared 2023 as the “Year of the Trail” here in North Carolina. The designation marks 2023 as a year to showcase, promote + celebrate NC’s trails.
Wondering why officials chose 2023? It marks the 50th anniversary of the 1973 North Carolina Trails System Act, which created North Carolina’s Trails Program. Officials also credit this act with catalyzing the many long-distance state trails (think: Mountains-to-Sea, the Big East Fork Trail in Pisgah National Forest) that we enjoy today.
Today, North Carolina has 41 state parks which offer 618.6 miles of trails that showcase our natural and urban landscapes. It’s no wonder trails are a cornerstone of our $28 billion outdoor recreation industry (making it the 6th largest in the US).
In honor of the benefits these trails and greenways bring to our communities — like improved health, increased economic activity, bike + pedestrian transportation, and the conservation of our natural resources — all 100 counties will offer special events and trail programs to increase people’s awareness of trails and boost local use and tourism. Programs will also highlight the importance of volunteers when it comes to creating and maintaining the state’s natural trail networks.
While NC may be “first in flight,” we’re not the first state to declare a “Year of the Trail.” Ohio and Indiana did that in 2018 and 2021, respectively. North Cackalacky is the first to share the news so far in advance so that local organizations and jurisdictions can have ample time to create detailed plans to promote + celebrate its trails.
Right now, we don’t know of any specific events happening in or around Asheville, but a planning committee with the Great Trails State Coalition will be meeting regularly to plan events. Get more deets here, and we can’t wait to meet you on the trails.