RALEIGH -- State parks systems in North Carolina and South Carolina on April 25 will dedicate the 8.5-mile Ridgeline Trail that links Crowders Mountain State Park with Kings Mountain State Park and the Kings Mountain National Military Park in South Carolina, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
Crowders Mountain State Park will also formally open its new Boulders Access, which serves as a gateway for the trail.
The Ridgeline Trail connects more than 15,000 acres of parkland in the two states, serving more than 1.5 million visitors each year. Also, it becomes a central link in a network of hiking trails extending more than 45 miles, including a 13-mile, one-way stretch from the northern reaches of Crowders Mountain State Park to the state line following the ridges of the Kings Mountain Range.
?The recreational benefits of this project are obvious, but we?re finding that this type of regional approach and partnership offers great benefits for natural resource conservation as well,? said Lewis Ledford, state parks director. ?South Carolina has been a supportive and assertive partner as we?ve sought to protect resources and explore common interests along our boundary. This trail and its green corridor will provide for long-term conservation and great outdoor opportunities in one of the most populated regions of the Southeast.?
History is an integral part of hiking the Ridgeline Trail. The trail provides walking access to Kings Mountain National Military Park, site of a pivotal Revolutionary War battle, and Kings Mountain State Park, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Also, the trail features interpretive signs at the state line that describe a boundary dispute that took six surveys and more than 70 years of arguments to settle before the line between the two Carolinas colonies was firmly drawn in 1772.
?Boundaries such as state lines typically mean a halt to a park experience like hiking on a clearly marked, picturesque trail, but in this case, that state line becomes a focal point, an added attraction for people out enjoying this beautiful new trail,? said Phil Gaines, director of the S.C. State Park Service. ?The new Ridgeline Trail is the first of its kind between our two great states, and we?re looking forward to working with our partners in North Carolina on more joint ventures of this very kind along our shared border. We see this as just the beginning.?
The concept of a hiking trail connecting the two states was part of an original master plan for Crowders Mountain State Park, which opened in 1974. It became feasible in 2000 when about 2,000 acres was acquired in North Carolina along the ridgeline for a trail corridor. Since that time, several hundred volunteers helped build the trail, supplemented by park efforts in both state parks and professional contract assistance from Long Cane Trails Inc. of Clarks Hill, SC.
The Ridgeline Trail is enhanced by the new Boulders Access in Crowders Mountain State Park near the state line. The $1.57 million project, supported by the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, includes a 2,200-square-foot ranger contact station, picnic grounds, parking area with space for 80 vehicles and a maintenance depot. The designer of the project was Mistri Hardaway Architects of Charlotte, and principal contractor was TC Strickland Construction, Inc of Shelby.
The dedication ceremonies will be held at 11 a.m. at the Boulders Access off Bethlehem Road. From Interstate 85 south of Kings Mountain, take Exit 5 and follow Dixon School Road south to Bethlehem Road.
# # #