Thursday, September 3, 2020

River Link Greenway

I've lived close to uptown Charlotte all my life and I wouldn't want it any other way. But if I had to move somewhere nearby, I think I'd consider Belmont, NC. This small town, less than 30 minutes west of Charlotte, is charming, accessible, and home to a number of our favorite outdoor destinations (see Seven Oaks Preserve, Goat Island and Rocky Branch Park).

The other day, we decided to do some more exploring in the area and found the River Link Greenway, a short but compelling stretch of the Carolina Thread Trail.

This smooth, flat, 0.7-mile (one way) out-and-back trail is paved from end-to-end, making it excellent for strollers, bikes, skates and scooters. It runs along the banks of the South Fork Catawba River and is tucked neatly behind a neighborhood development, though you wouldn't know it for most of your stroll.

The trail ends at an overlook (spoiler alert, there are no breathtaking views, but this is a nice place to sit a spell and enjoy nature). All along the way there are lots of opportunities to enjoy wildlife, including a bunch of turtles basking in the sun on the river.

A really cool feature of the River Link Greenway is its proximity to other connector trails, including the Goat Island Greenway, which is a short walk over the footbridge from the River Link Greenway trailhead parking lot. At the west end of the Goat Island Greenway, you can hop on the Riverside Greenway, and at the east end, the Stuart Cramer High School Trail.

All together, this is nearly five miles of trails, and that's not counting the South Fork Blueway, an approximately 10-mile stretch of the river for folks to paddle through more than 1,300 acres of land permanently protected by the Catawba Lands Conservancy.

Another perk: Just on the other side of Goat Island is the quaint downtown Cramerton, where you can find a cup of coffee or a bite to eat.

If you, like me, are partial to center city Charlotte, I'd invite you to take a field trip to Belmont. It's a lovely little community and its nearby greenway system is a good excuse to visit. Start with a stroll along the River Link Greenway and see what you can discover from there.

How to get there: The River Link Greenway trailhead is in the Goat Island Park and Greenway Belmont Access parking lot, which is located at 305 Greenwood Pl., Belmont, NC, 28012. There are no restroom facilities; plan accordingly.

Don't forget to pack:
  • Comfortable walking shoes: Sneakers will do
  • Water: Bring enough for during and after your trek; there are no facilities to refill nearby
  • Bikes, scooters or other riding toys and a helmet: The paved trail is good for wheels
  • Hats, sunscreen and sunglasses: The trail is partially shaded, but not completely
  • Bug spray: Especially during warmer months

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