New Backcountry Trail Crosses 1,327 Acres Added to Buffalo Creek Park
The new Weed Patch Mountain Trail invites people into a stunning backcountry wilderness—traversing a 1,327-acre tract that was recently added to the Town of Lake Lure’s Buffalo Creek Park. This land expands the park to 1,527 acres, making it one of the largest town-owned parks in North Carolina.
The 8.6-mile trail connects Buffalo Creek Park to Eagle Rock in Chimney Rock State Park. The trail is designed for hiking and mountain biking and it provides the first access to Eagle Rock, a scenic viewpoint and rock climbing destination.
“The Weed Patch Mountain Trail is poised to become a crown jewel of outdoor recreation in the Hickory Nut Gorge, teeming with adventures for hikers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers,” says Peter Barr, trails coordinator for Conserving Carolina and project manager of the new trail. “It offers a remote and rugged experience that is only a short drive from Asheville and Lake Lure. And it features stunning natural features like spectacular cliffs, long range views, pristine mountain streams, and old growth forest.”
The trail and the expanded park were officially opened to the public at a ribbon cutting celebration on Friday, May 4 in Lake Lure.
This is a dramatic turnaround for land that was once slated for development. Its conservation as a public park was made possible through a partnership between Conserving Carolina and the Town of Lake Lure with support from many partners. Multiple state agencies played key roles, including North Carolina’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund and Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, Recreational Trails Program, and NC State Parks. Vital support also came from the Carolina Climbers Coalition, David and Daryl Nelms, and private landowners.
“It has been a privilege to work with Peter Barr and Conserving Carolina in creating what we are certain will eventually become a showpiece destination trail over the years,” said Lake Lure Mayor Kevin Cooley. “We believe the incredible aspect of this trail, unique among others around the lake, is the absolute feeling of wilderness, remoteness and tranquility. Users won’t see manmade structures anywhere around. In only a few hours from your car, you’re away from civilization and able to fully immerse yourself in the natural world of Hickory Nut Gorge.”
The land that makes up Buffalo Creek Park was once planned to be part of the Grey Rock subdivision. But due to the recession, Conserving Carolina was able to purchase the property out of bankruptcy in 2009. The land trust protected the land forever with a conservation easement, and sold it to the town for a park.
The town engaged Conserving Carolina to create the trail, which was designed by Peter Barr and constructed by Shrimper Khare and Headwaters Environmental Services to meet high standards of sustainability. Sustainable trail design includes features that prevent erosion, minimize the need for maintenance, and enhance users’ experience. On Weed Patch Mountain, these features include frequent curves, a moderate grade, and 150 masoned stone steps.
This trail is the newest leg of the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail, a network that will ultimately extend more than 100 miles. Buffalo Creek Park adds to extensive protected lands in the gorge, including nearby Youngs Mountain Summit which Conserving Carolina purchased in December 2017. Currently, there are over 12,000 acres of protected land surrounding Lake Lure.