North Carolina's Year of the Trail | 2023
On August 18th, the NC Legislature declared 2023 North Carolina Year of the Trail, highlighting an opportunity to showcase, promote, and celebrate our state’s extensive trail systems. We envision a future where each of our 100 counties enjoys the proven benefits of trails, including the health and safety of our citizens, tourism and economic development, transportation, and the environment.
To that end, the Great Trails State Coalition is highly invested in making Year of the Trail big news for North Carolina! This statewide campaign will reach all communities and potential visitors with the message of how and where to experience the trails that crisscross our beautiful state.
Key Aspects of the Year
1. Public Engagement
The goal of the Great Trails State Coalition is to encourage every North Carolinian to get outside on a trail in 2023. This campaign for trails will reach a wide range of communities across NC with a specific focus on engaging people of color. We aim to host at least one trail event in each of NC’s 100 counties, including group outings, trail maintenance training days, and many other creative ideas suggested by partners across the state.
2. Media Attention
Throughout 2023, we will be highlighting NC trails and their benefits through broadcasts, print and digital media, billboards, and other advertising venues. Featured content will share stories of trails across the state and encourage the public to experience trails — both close to home and in different areas of NC.
3. Educational Tracks
In both 2022 and 2023, Great Trails State Coalition will present at conferences across the state to prepare communities to host events for Year of the Trail. These presentations will encourage communities to harness the many benefits of trails in NC, including economic boosts, community cohesion, health improvements, and environmental benefits.
4. Legislative Connections
Throughout 2023, Great Trails State Coalition will be inviting members of the NC Legislature to events taking place along trails in their district. By connecting with stakeholders and constituents on the trail, legislators can directly experience the benefits trails provide to their district and the importance of investing in the NC trail system.
2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1973 North Carolina Trails System Act. The NC Trails System Act created North Carolina’s Trails Program which is housed in the Division of Parks and Recreation and is assisted by the North Carolina Trails Committee, a group of citizens appointed to represent users of different types of trails, including hiking, biking, paddling, horseback riding and off road vehicles.
Year of the Trail is Good for North Carolina
Year of the Trail will increase tourism, particularly in rural areas, and build on the growing valuation of trails that was kickstarted by the pandemic. Trails are the foundation of North Carolina’s $28 billion dollar outdoor recreation economy* and by promoting and investing in trail infrastructure, we are well-set to grow this number significantly.
Thank the legislators who supported this designation:
Send a thank you email to the Representatives who sponsored this bill or to your legislator who voted to pass this legislation.
Introduced by: Representative Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke)
Primary Sponsors: Representative Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke), Representative Pat B. Hurley (R),Representative Larry C. Strickland (R), Representative Dean Arp (R)
“Year of the Trail will be a tremendous opportunity to highlight North Carolina’s exceptional network of trails, and educate the public and elected officials about their value to our residents and communities.”
Kate Dixon, Executive Director of Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail
Help us celebrate trails in North Carolina in 2023, and together, let’s show why North Carolina is