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NC Land Conservancies Work to Create New Trails

The new Brushy Face Trail was constructed completely by hand with the help of volunteers. (Highland Cashiers Land Trust)
The new Brushy Face Trail was constructed completely by hand with the help of volunteers. (Highland Cashiers Land Trust)
June 2, 2017

LINVILLE, N.C. – Near-perfect weather is expected in most of North Carolina this weekend, and thousands will take advantage of the state's multiple hiking opportunities.

One of the newest trails to try out is the Brushy Face Trail, the result of a land donation to the Highland Cashiers Land Trust. The trail connects the Brushy Face Preserve with the Satulah Mountain Preserve, and has its official grand opening Saturday.

Gary Wein, executive director of the land trust says trail construction has been a labor of love for the group's AmeriCorps volunteer.

"A lot of times, trails are built with machinery these days, but in this particular case it was all built by hand," he says. "It was all built with volunteer labor, and the person who pulled this all off and coordinated the volunteers was our AmeriCorps member."

The 1.4-mile trail takes visitors through fern glades, rhododendron gardens and buckberry patches.

Land trusts often preserve land and makes it available to the general public for recreation. Foothills Conservancy is partnering with North Carolina State Parks and Burke County and other groups to create one of North Carolina's newest trails, the Fonta Flora State Trail. The Conservancy has worked to expand Lake James State Park since 2004, adding more than three-thousand acres over the last 10 years.

Susie Hamrick Jones with the Foothills Conservancy says the new trail will be another tourism draw for people near and far.

"We have many people from the Charlotte metro area who look to Lake James and the trails now that are available in the Linville Gorge, and that will connect to this Fonta Flora loop trail," she says. "It's a huge driver for tourism and for public recreation, for people who live close by."

Wein says land trusts count on public and private dollars to purchase and preserve land for generations. For the Brushy Mountain Trail, he says they benefited from the generosity of neighboring property owners.

"The people who bought it and then gave it to us, basically realized they didn't want anybody in their backyard and thought the best way to protect their backyard and protect the land forever was to buy it, and then give it to us," he explains.

More information on the state's trails is online at

Stephanie Carson/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - NC