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Construction Begins on Lower Heartbreak Ridge Trail in Old Fort, NC


Old Fort, NC, October 11, 2023—Camp Grier, in collaboration with its community partners within the G5 Trail Collective located in Old Fort, NC, is delighted to announce the commencement of construction for the 3-mile Lower Heartbreak Ridge mountain biking and hiking trail. Construction will commence immediately, with the trail expected to be open to the public by Spring 2024.

The Lower Heartbreak Ridge Trail constitutes a pivotal component of the expansive 42-mile trail development plan in the Old Fort region, which is crucial to connecting Mount Mitchell to the Town of Old Fort, primarily through singletrack trails. Beginning just below Mount Mitchell on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this trail will soon fulfill a long-awaited connection, spanning over 10 miles and descending 3,400 feet in elevation. It stretches from the slopes of the highest peak east of the Mississippi River to the outskirts of Old Fort, adjacent to the Blue Ridge Mountains. This section will seamlessly link from Jarrett Creek Road, extending from the end of the existing Heartbreak Ridge and Star Gap East trails, to the Copper Ridge Section of the Fonta Flora Trail. This connection will allow trail enthusiasts to travel from the backcountry trails to Mill Creek Road in Old Fort. Excitingly, this development follows the recent allocation of $2.5 million by the state of North Carolina, earmarked for the construction of 25-30 miles of accessible trails in Old Fort over the next two years.

Jason McDougald, the Executive Director of Camp Grier, emphasized the significance of this trail, stating, “This is the critical link that sparked the dream of new trails in Old Fort, and it is the one trail that literally connects the town limits to the Pisgah National Forest for hiking, biking, running, and backpacking. We wouldn't be embarking on this trail project without the unwavering support of our community and the McDowell County Tourism and Development Authority, and the NC Recreational Trails Grant Program.”

The G5 Trail Collective's mission extends beyond creating trails; it is about fostering community well-being. Two transformative projects are being developed as a direct result of this trail investment. Camp Grier’s Grier Village will add approximately 75,000 sq. ft. of community-focused, lodging, student housing, and classroom spaces on 150 acres, intended to support an equitable outdoor recreation economy in Old Fort, NC, while growing outdoor opportunities for all. Additionally, Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation’s Innovation Market will offer a commercial lease facility featuring a state-of-the-art film studio, indoor retail market, meeting space, and manufacturing floor space. This is proof of the equitable and symbiotic community development that G5 is advocating for. One where communities take care of the trails and, in turn, the trails take care of them in the form of Economic Revitalization, Community Well-being, Cultural and Environmental Preservation, and Education.

For more detailed information about the G5 Trail Collective and our ongoing initiatives, please visit g5trailcollective.org.

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