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Carolina Thread Trail

The Carolina Thread Trail is a regional network of connected greenways, trails and blueways that reaches 15 counties and 2.9 million people in North and South Carolina. Centered on the greater Charlotte region, it includes over 300 miles of trails and 170 miles of blueway open to the public – linking people to places, and communities to each other. The ultimate vision is a connected network of 1,600 miles of trails and blueways connecting the region for recreation, transportation and conservation. 

Photo by Nancy Pierce

In 2005, more than 40 community and business leaders participated in a discovery process to identify our region’s most pressing environmental need. The process produced the vision of the Carolina Thread Trail, which launched in 2007, led by the Catawba Lands Conservancy.

Since then, the Thread Trail has worked closely with communities in its 15-county footprint to support their efforts to build and expand public trails. From its own funding, the Thread Trail has awarded grant funding to support local communities’ efforts. Currently, there are 88 communities with plans for trails, averaging 100 miles per county.

The Thread Trail plays three roles to support its community partners:


Our team engages our communities in the planning and implementation of the Thread Trail, starting with countywide master planning. Once plans are adopted, we actively partner with communities on priority corridors to help them realize their vision for the Thread Trail.


Through private fundraising efforts, the Thread Trail grants funds to communities for planning, design, land acquisition and construction of trail segments. We also assist communities in attracting public funding and other private grants.


We enhance trail-building capacity across the region through our annual Trail Forum, a day of learning from experts and sharing best practices. We also provide mapping expertise to support the design and implementation of trails. By training volunteer leaders in sustainable trail building, The Thread coordinates a core of volunteers in building and maintaining natural surface trails.

Photo by Nancy Pierce

The Thread Trail is an example of unprecedented regional collaboration that works to connect people and communities to nature and each other through trails, greenways and blueways. This is a landmark project that provides public and community benefits for people of every age, every background and in every community in our region.

Are you looking for a place to get outside? Check out our online trail map to find your next place to explore!

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