Improving McDowell County access to trails and more

President's Message

Dear MTA Members,

McDowell County is blessed with the asset of natural beauty all around us. The McDowell Trails Association is partnering with local governments, public and private land managers, organizations, and other non-profits to bring about improvements to and the expansion of our greenways and trails.  Here are some of the projects we are working on.

Phase III Greenway

We held the official groundbreaking of Phase III of the Joseph McDowell Historical Catawba Greenway at the County Park section off Old Greenlee Road in May. Work is progressing on the site with the anticipation of completion by mid-summer.  In addition to an improved entrance and parking, there will be a picnic pavilion, river access, and about 2,800 linear feet of greenway along the river.

Planning for connecting this area to the existing greenway and extending west will continue.

Fonta Flora State Trail

The Fonta Flora State Trail (FFST) will connect Morganton and Asheville covering approximately 75 miles, the center of which is McDowell County. The McDowell-Catawba Greenway and the Point Lookout Trail west of Old Fort are designated parts of the FFST.  A master plan has been developed for the trail from the Burke/McDowell line to Marion, and plans are underway for the trail in and around Old Fort.  The MTA is partnering with the City of Marion, McDowell County, the U.S. Forest Service, the McDowell Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Business Association to develop a plan to make the FFST not just a trail, but a destination that will bring business and economic development to communities along the trail.  Once grant funding is secured, progress on new trail segments will be made.

Point Lookout Trail

Point Lookout Trail is the 3.6 miles of what used to be Old Highway 70 from Old Fort to Ridgecrest and is a segment of the Fonta Flora State Trail. It is popular with cyclists who use it as part of a loop and hikers who go to enjoy the spectacular view from Point Lookout.  Heavy rains and storms in 2018 caused landslides and downed trees that all but closed the trail. In March 2019 the MTA spent $10,000 opening up the trail and improving drainage from top to bottom. In cooperation with the US Forest Service we have submitted a grant that will improve the information kiosks at both ends of the trail and blaze the trail as part of the Fonta Flora State Trail.

The MTA is part of a larger task force brought together by the US Forest Service to evaluate all the trails in the Old Fort area and improve trail connectivity and conditions.   

Peavine Greenway

Currently the Peavine Trail extends from State Street to the trestle behind Mi Pueblito on Rutherford Road.  An engineering report on the condition of the trestle indicates a costly repair or bypassing the trestle. One that is addressed, the Peavine can be extended further south. Some funds have been appropriated but it needs a sizeable local match.

Joseph McDowell Historical Catawba and YMCA Greenways

These two greenways remain popular with the citizens of McDowell County and visitors to the area, providing a scenic and safe place to walk, run, or ride.  At the McDowell House entrance of the greenway the MTA has recently installed the commemorative bricks that were sold over the years.  There’s room for new bricks, and you may purchase one through our website under the Donate Tab

MTA Membership

Our organization is as strong as its members.  Over the years the MTA has enjoyed a robust membership, and we want to keep that going. If you are a member, please renew your membership each year.  We send a notice one month prior to the end of your membership year.  If you are not a member, please join us!  Your support is invaluable as we seek grant funding to build new trails and expand the greenway.  It demonstrates to our elected officials that the community values and supports recreation opportunities and improving overall health through exercise.  Click the Donate and the Membership tab on our website to join.

Thank you for supporting the work of the MTA.

Warmest regards,

Steve Pierce
President