In 1954, Charlotte businessman Andy Barker left his general contracting career at 29 years old to fulfill his childhood dream of living in an authentic Western town. But, instead of heading out West, he packed up his family and moved just past Statesville, about an hour and 15 minutes north of Charlotte.
Love Valley, creating an authentic replica of an old Wild West movie setting, complete with a dirt main street open only to pedestrian and equine traffic, a saloon, a general store, a post office and a leather smith.
section of the Carolina Thread Trail.
There's a large gravel public parking lot at the corner of Henry Martin Trail Rd. and Tori Pass Ln., across the street from Ms. Kitty's B&B. Leave your car here; "downtown" is closed to vehicular traffic.
On a weekday afternoon, save for a local or two (and the specter playing piano at the saloon. No, really.), we were the only ones around. Which lent some authenticity to a ghost-town vibe. I never felt unsafe, but I definitely muttered "this is so weird" more than a handful of times.
The trail was muddy and trenched in many places with steep inclines. Total, it's 2.7 miles (one way) and might have become more passable farther along, but I can confirm that the first mile or so is tough and not-so-pleasant going, particularly if it's rained in, say, the past week. (Also, look out for horse droppings and yield to equestrians.)
If you're feeling pioneering and interested in taking a step back in time, get a wiggle on (cowboy for "hurry") and mosey up to Love Valley. It's a lot of things, but most especially, something you can't find anywhere else in these parts. Giddy up, pardner.
How to get there:
A public parking lot for downtown Love Valley is located at 152 Henry Martin Trail, Love Valley, NC, 28625. The Carolina Thread Trail sign and trailhead is at the dead end of the main stretch.
Don't forget to pack:
- Comfortable walking shoes: Boots are a good choice for the trail after a rain.
- Water and snacks
- Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen
- Bugspray: Particularly in warmer months
- A sense of adventure