Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Revisiting Charlotte's Trail of History

There's a new statue on Charlotte's Trail of History, another reason to (re)visit this self-guided walking tour along the paved Little Sugar Creek Greenway. (You can learn more about the excursion from this post on the Trail of History.) 

What's recently changed is the addition of a bronze statue honoring civil right attorney Julius Chambers to the 1.5-mile "outdoor museum" featuring people who were instrumental in the growth and development of Charlotte. 

Chambers, who was from Mount Gilead, accomplished many things in his lifetime that make him worthy of this recognition. You might know his name from the Swann V. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education case, which set the precedent for integrating schools nationwide in 1971. 

Chambers also won seven other cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, founded North Carolina's first integrated law firm, served as NAACP Legal Defense fund director and was chancellor at his alma mater, N.C. Central University. 

Chambers died in 2013 at 76, but his legacy most certainly remains in and around Charlotte. You can find his statue near the large fountain along Kings Dr. near S. Torrence St. (just past Dunkin' Donuts if you're heading away from town). 

Check out the Trail of History website for more information about the historic individuals featured. You can also see a trail map here

Another fun recent development: The Little Sugar Creek Greenway now extends north of the northern end of the Trail of History with a recently opened section that connects 7th St. to 10th. St., and on to NoDa. Read about the new section here

How to get there
The Trail of History runs along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway from 7th St. to Morehead St. Parking is available in a number of places along that stretch, including at the Metropolitan (Target/BJ's deck) at 1116 Metropolitan Ave. (jump on the greenway on the other side of Wendy's) or the Elizabeth Park parking lot at 1124 E. 4th St. (there is a four hour limit on parking here). We also sometimes park in the CPCC lot at the corner of 7th and Kings Dr. adjacent to Memorial Stadium/Grady Cole Center. 

The Little Sugar Creek Greenway is also accessible as far south as Park Road Shopping Center and as far north as NoDa at Cordelia Park. Consider a bike ride from either end! 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Kings Mountain Gateway Trail

What a glorious fall it has been! For weeks now, every time we leave the house, I can't help but declare "look at those leaves!" Have you noticed, too? The colors are brilliant. The autumn hue is golden. Magical, right? It's the perfect backdrop against which to explore.  

Here's a trail you might consider for your next outing. (This one might be good for entertaining family in town for the holidays!)

Check out Kings Mountain Gateway Trail, located about 45 minutes west of Uptown, just past Gastonia. This Carolina Thread Trail segment offers hikers and bikers eight beautiful miles of trails. 

The trail system begins in a gravel lot, which features restroom facilities, a picnic shelter with grills, and a map kiosk.

Just behind the picnic shelter is a short interpretive nature trail for children. From the main trailhead, you have four options, all of which begin along the Rail Trail Loop, a 0.7-mile gravel path built along an old rail bed. 

From the Rail Trail Loop, you can jump on the Plateau Loop (0.8-miles long), a moderate paved incline; Cardio Hill (0.4 miles, one way), a strenuous gravel trail that ends with an overlook of the city and surrounding areas; or the Foote Trail, a rolling gravel trail that ranges from flat to strenuous over 4.5 miles (one way).  Here's a trail map

We enjoyed a stretch of the Foote Trail, which winds its way by an abandoned quarry, through fields and forested areas, and over creeks. We hiked, but would consider taking bikes next time. Both are good options for this destination (though there are some hilly sections on which a beginner mountain biker might need to dismount and push). 

Along the trail, you'll find benches to take a snack break. Of course, a nice thing about such a long out-and-back is that you can go as far or as short as you're up for. 

The Gateway Trail is open dawn to dusk daily. You can check out scheduled events here

Another fun fact: Kings Mountain Gateway Trail is minutes from Hounds Drive-In Theater (the trail runs directly behind a couple of the screens!). It's also about a half mile south of downtown Kings Mountain. Either/both might make for a nice combo outing if you're looking to entertain for the day.  

One day, this portion of the Carolina Thread Trail will connect the City of Kings Mountain, Crowders Mountain State ParkKings Mountain State Park and Kings Mountain National Military Park. For now, it's a nice standalone option for a hike or a ride. 

How to get there: 
The Kings Mountain Gateway Trailhead parking lot is located at 807 S. Battleground Ave., Kings Mountain, NC, 28086. 

Friday, November 5, 2021

Little Sugar Creek Greenway/XCLT: 7th Street to 10th Street

Y'all. We are THIS CLOSE to being able to walk or ride a bike along a safe, protected, vehicular-traffic-free greenway from NoDa to Pineville. With the quiet opening of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway 7th Street to 10th Street segment last week, that grand vision became one step closer to a reality. 

This stretch of greenway, located on the east side of Uptown just outside of the interstate loop, fills a key gap in the Cross Charlotte Trail (XCLT) and provides users safe passage across the I-277/Independence Boulevard interchange, connecting two existing portions of the greenway (Cordelia to 12th St. and E. 7th St to Morehead). 

The new passage is also part of the Uptown CycleLink, a 6.5-mile network of protected bikeways that connect greenways into and across Uptown. 

Some fun features of this segment: 
  • A parklet at the end of Jackson Ave. Here, you'll find a bike maintenance station, an art installation, and benches. 
  • Proximity and access to nearby parks (like Alexander Street Park and Independence Park), businesses and amenities (like Two Scoops Creamery!)
  • A beautiful, panoramic view of Uptown from the Central Ave. bridge over I-277.
  • Fully protected bike lanes with physical barriers on the street portions of the trail. Note the distinctive green paint in crosswalks where crossings are necessary. 

Though this new segment of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway is short (about half a mile), its importance is monumental, representing another exciting, meaningful step toward a truly bikeable community. This is good news not just for folks who enjoy trails for recreation, but for the sustainability of Charlotte, especially as it continues to grow for years to come. 

Join me in taking a celebratory walk or spin along one of our newest urban trails as we eagerly anticipate the completion of the Brandywine (Park Road Shopping Center) to Tyvola stretch of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, currently under construction. NoDa to Pineville, here we come! 

How to get there: 
The north end of this segment of the trail is at the intersection of E. 10th Street and E. 12th Street, near Alexander Street park (where you can find parking). The south end is located at the intersection of Central Ave. and E. 7th St., near Memorial Stadium (1218 Armory Dr., Charlotte, NC, 28204) and the Grady Cole Center. The greenway is well marked with directional signage and road markings.