Wilderness Gateway State Trail to be 100 miles and connect Chimney Rock to South Mountains

Can there ever be too many hiking trails in Western North Carolina?

State trail planners, conservation groups, local governments and outdoors enthusiasts tend to think not.

At least that seems to be the case as another series of long-distance trails are now in the works by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

The Wilderness Gateway State Trail should be about 100 miles when completed, and connect Chimney Rock State Park in Rutherford County with South Mountains State Park in Burke County, to the towns of Hickory and Valdese, as well as contain a paddle trail across two waterways — Henry Fork and Jacob Fork rivers – in a linear trail with access points for people to hop on and off, or to hike continuously for days.

Wilderness Gateway was authorized by the General Assembly in July 2019, and signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper, also authorizing creation of the Northern Peaks State Trail in Watauga and Ashe counties, and the Overmountain Victory State Trail reaching across Avery, Mitchell, McDowell, Burke, Rutherford, Polk, Caldwell, Wilkes and Surry counties.

The vision for the Wilderness Gateway State Trail entails three primary purposes: conservation, recreation and tourism.

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