Welcome to NC Rail-Trails!

North Carolina Rail-Trails works with communities across North Carolina to create trails for public use on abandoned rail corridors.

Rail-trails differ from other trails and greenways in several characteristics. The terrain for rail-trails is generally flat or gently sloped because the land was originally engineered for rail use. This makes rail-trails wonderful places to ride a bike and many are wheelchair accessible. Also, rail corridors are usually wide enough to accommodate many different types of trail use: biking, walking, jogging, horseback riding, dog walking, pogo-sticking … you get the idea.

Another positive attribute of a rail-trail is that it actually goes somewhere. Just as trains went from one community to the next, so does the rail-trail, creating a natural link between communities. Today, we can maintain these community links by utilizing existing rail corridors that are so perfectly suited for trails.

Does your community have an abandoned railroad? Would you like to have a safe place to play and exercise while preserving your community’s train heritage? Please contact NCRT if you would like us to help you create a rail-trail in your area.

Link to News Archive

To see all earlier NEWS items please go to our News Archives page.

We've added some new trail images to our Photo Gallery.

posted by curt on September 24, 2014

The American Tobacco Trail Study being done by North Carolina Rail-Trails and researchers from NC Central and NC State is going well. A community input workshop will be held this Saturday (Sept. 27th). The team will have a tent with tables at 2919 Fayetteville St. in Durham (just off the American Tobacco Trail at The Office Connection) from noon-4pm. It's a drop in type of event, no need to stay long but there will be hot dogs and raffles!

If you can't stop by but would still like to provide input, please take a few moments to complete the On-line Survey  (Survey open through October 26)

posted by curt on September 23, 2014

On September 10th Durham took a first step towards planning for the future acquisition and development of a 2.2 mile rail corridor in downtown Durham. The Duke Beltline is a rail spur that rings the western and northern portions of downtown. Supporters of a rails-to-trails conversion see it as a complement to the American Tobacco Trail and other city greenway projects. Federal officials have awarded Durham a $222,700 grant the city can use to fund planning for a new trail along the Duke Beltline rail corridor.

U.S. Reps. G.K. Butterfield, D-1st, and David Price, D-4th, issued a joint statement Wednesday evening announcing the decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Butterfield made a point of thanking Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, a former mayor of Charlotte, for supporting the application. The grant replied to an application from the city government, which hopes someday to acquire the downtown-ringing Beltline from the Norfolk Southern Corp. City Manager Tom Bonfield said the planning work should bolster the city’s case if and when it comes time to seek outside funding for an acquisition. “If we were going to look for philanthropic support from the private sector, the foundation or business world, it was difficult to do that without a plan or strategy or some visual representation of what we’re talking about,” Bonfield said, summarizing the advice officials have solicited from organizations who might be able to help. Officials will need to come up with a $75,000 local match, with private contributions being a potential source of at least some of that money. City Transportation Director Mark Ahrendsen said in putting together the grant application, officials touched base with Duke University, Downtown Durham Inc. and the people behind the American Tobacco complex and the proposed Durham Innovation District. They “indicated if we were successful [in landing the planning grant], we’d be returning to them,” Ahrendsen said. “They were open to that, but no commitments were made at that time. We will follow up with the private interests that expressed support for the project.”  He added that the grant is supposed to pay for the creation of a master plan for a trail project along the beltline, to include “trail development guidelines, [construction] phasing and a funding strategy.” Officials in assembling the application figured the work will take about a year. It can’t begin until they nail down grant agreements with the federal government and the N.C. Department of Transportation, and select a consultant. The city’s timetable calls for the administrative spadework to be completed by the end of the year and the selection of the consultant to take place by the spring. That would translate into a completed plan sometime in early 2016, Ahrendsen said. Acquisition talks between the city and Norfolk Southern bogged down in 2013 after the railroad said it wants $7.1 million for the corridor. The city had $2 million on hand thanks to a Price-secured federal appropriation. The project gained new life this year when a Virgina-based trust, The Conservation Fund, signaled interest in lending a hand. Its North Carolina operation is led by Bill Holman, a former Sierra Club lobbyist, state administrator and Duke University policy analyst. Bonfield said representatives of The Conservation Fund and the railroad have met several times and, while not making any deals yet, are having “fruitful talks” about the Beltline. Holman confirmed that talks are continuing. To date, the conversations are about “seeing if we can get together an agreement on what the property is worth,” as a preliminary to figuring out “how to pay for it and how quickly to pay for it,” he said. But “both parties are very interested in working things out,” Holman said. Holman added that the planning grant “will help a lot.”  “There are opportunities to bring other public and private funds into the project,” he said. “Having a great plan developed [using the grant] will aid those interests.”

posted by curt on August 10, 2014

Registration for our Ales for Rail-Trails 5K Race is open. The Race will be held on Sunday October 12th and once again we'll be starting and finishing just east of downtown Durham with a portion of the course on the Ellerbe Creek Trail. Bull City Running Co. will be providing major course support with post-race libations from FullSteam Brewery. Click here for more on the race and a link to our registration page.

posted by curt on July 29, 2014

Over the past several months the Elkin Valley Trails Association has seen lots of of progress on the E & A Rail-Trail. On July 12th NCRT held its quarterly Board meeting in Elkin and following our meeting took a walk on the trail with Bill Blackley of EVTA http://elkinvalleytrails.org/. The new bridge is open for users and will be formally dedicated later this Summer (click for image). From downtown the trail will be about two miles but the downtown portion is not marked as such. The new portion of the trail is ~ one mile long. EVTA has received great local support from volunteers and received grants and donations from a number of Corporations and Foundations. The bridge alone cost $91,000; installing pilings and bridge $78,000; construction roads and trails over $45,000; FEMA studies, environmental studies and work, engineering, etc. over $60,000. Major contributors/grant givers included: Lowes Foundation; WIFM radio, Town of Elkin, Surry County, Chatham Foundation, Hillsdale Foundation, Winston-Salem Foundation, RTP grant, over 60 businesses, Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce, Yadkin Rotary Club, multiple restaurants, Walmart, Frontier Gas, Greenhill Environmental, Yadkin Valley Railroad, and many more.Good News! In early September EVTA learned that they will be awarded a $200,000 grant for construction of the second bridge. The new bridge will be on the Stone Mountain Trail, a segment of the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and will connect a section of trail leading to Grassy Creek Winery, onward towards Carter Mill Falls and then Stone Mountain State Park. Funding is from a State RTP grant. The Elkin Valley Trails Association will be working between now and February to raise additional money needed to complete the bridge. If you would be interested in helping us fund part of this critical link in the Mountains-to-Sea Trail please contact Bill Blackley at wjblackley@gmail.com

By the rules of the grant they can't start any construction until funding is received. They are however, planning to build trail north of the planned-for second bridge so that when the grant is completed and the bridge is installed citizens will be able to get on the trails and walk or ride a long way right from the first day.

EVTA has held multiple fundraisers and a dedicated group of citizens have given over 6,000 volunteer hours on the Association's various trails and activities. If you would like to assist in the Association's trail building please check their Facebook page for news on coming events and workdays: https://www.facebook.com/ElkinValleyTrails.