Fundraising efforts continue as mountain bike trail nears completion | Local News

JNestled under a canopy of trees along the Catawba River, the crews have spent the past two months creating Morganton’s next element of recreation.

A dedicated mountain biking and hiking trail that will run along the Catawba River Greenway between Catawba Meadows Park and the Rockyford access of the NC 18/US 64 Greenway is midway with approximately 2 miles of jumps and curves.

“It will be sort of an addition to the amenities already at Catawba Meadows, in a way where you can get away from the greenway and the nature around those big trees a little bit,” said Joseph Litaker, owner of China Grove- based on Black Diamond Trail Designs.

His company is tasked with clearing the way for the new trail, a project initiated by North Carolina’s Foothills Conservancy.

The conservation group has already raised more than $120,000 for the $200,000 project, according to the fundraising page on the group’s website.

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So far, crews have completed the more advanced parts of the trail, Litaker said, but the trails will be accessible to beginners and experts alike.

“The start of the park to the main Catawba Meadows facilities will be more beginner friendly, suitable for the adapted cycle and will be a good starting point if you have just mountain biked or want to head into the woods on your bike,” Litaker said. “We see a lot of beach cruisers and different types of bikes on the greenway, and part of this trail will be accessible by these types of bikes. You don’t necessarily need a brand new bike to get out and ride those trails.

The difficulty of the trails increases as riders get closer to Rockyford Access, with the terrain getting rockier as you go. Advanced riders will be able to access a dedicated jump line from Rockyford Access.

Michael Lowther, owner of Overmountain Cycles in downtown Morganton, first approached Foothills Conservancy with the idea of ​​mountain bike trails a few years ago.

“If you’re a hiker or a kayaker or something like that, you always want to have options and you want to have places to explore,” Lowther said. “As a biker…(now) I have a place that’s extremely close to me in town that I can ride and that allows me to, if I have a busy day and don’t have no time to go to the woods, I have a place nearby where I can ride. It’s really just that, it’s having more options depending on my availability.

“It’s amazing, really.”

He said he hopes the trail will make it easier for those who can’t access mixed-use trails outside of town.

“The James Lake State Park trails went through there…but if you had to drive from downtown or live on the other side of Burke closer to Hickory, it’s a long drive and it’s tough for people to go out. and do things,” Lowther said.

He said he was one of a dozen people who saw the progress Litaker’s company has made on the trails this week.

“It’s really obvious that their passion is in what they do because they’ve done a phenomenal job,” Lowther said. “We had fun for probably 30 minutes to an hour, it just feels like doing laps on the jump line.”

Grayson Barnette, marketing and communications coordinator for Foothills Conservancy, said the group is still seeking community support through donations and plans to speak to Morganton City Council at its Aug. 1 meeting about the contribution of the city to the financing of the project. .

“It’s something that I think will have a lot of opportunities to grow in the future,” Barnette said. “Additions to our outdoor recreation economy that already exist here in Morganton, and we’re going to see that grow, not just in Burke County, but only in this area…Morganton, implementing these trails right from the start. beginning, by combining mountain bike trails and multi-use accessing trails with existing greenways and existing infrastructure needs is truly a great way to double the impact of this outdoor recreation economy in Morganton and throughout Burke County, and really staying ahead of the region on this.

Anyone interested in more information about the project should visit foothillsconservancy.org/mtnbiketrail.

Chrissy Murphy is editor and can be reached at [email protected] or 828-432-8941. Follow @cmurphyMNH on Twitter.

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