The Town of Lake Lure’s Weed Patch Mountain Trail was been recognized as one of the best new trails in the nation. The national Coalition for Recreational Trails has bestowed the trail its annual achievement award in the category of trail design and construction.
At a ceremony on Capitol Hill in June, Senator Richard Burr and the office of Senator Thom Tillis presented the coalition’s Tom Petri Achievement Award to Conserving Carolina’s trails coordinator Peter Barr, who designed the trail, and to Chris “Shrimper” Khare, of Terra Incognita Trail Specialists, who led its construction.
It was the second year in a row that Conserving Carolina won the national award. In 2018, the award went to Barr and Conserving Carolina for Wildcat Rock Trail in Gerton, NC.
Weed Patch Mountain Trail, which opened last year, travels for 8.6 miles through the Town of Lake Lure’s Buffalo Creek Park and connects to Chimney Rock State Park. It offers stunning scenery and backcountry adventure for both hikers and mountain bikers.
“This is an outstanding achievement, and I join Conserving Carolina’s members, volunteers, and the surrounding communities in celebrating this honor,” said Senator Thom Tillis. “As an avid outdoorsman, I stand in awe of the spectacular views and natural beauty of North Carolina. I am glad that Conserving Carolina’s hard work, commitment to our community, and thoughtful design has been acknowledged.”
Conserving Carolina partnered with the Town of Lake Lure to create the Weed Patch Mountain Trail in only one year, completing it in 2017. In addition to designing the trail, the land trust helped fund the project through private donations to supplement the Town’s Recreational Trails Program grant. It also facilitated the creation of the Town’s 1,500-acre Buffalo Creek Park through which the trail traverses, and its permanent protection via a conservation easement.
Barr and Khare spent much of the year on Weed Patch Mountain’s steep slopes implementing the trail. A tight timeline due to an expiring grant forced Barr to design much of it with Khare digging just yards behind. The project faced additional obstacles including crossing private property, remote and rugged terrain, and the 7,200-acre Party Rock forest fire that engulfed the surrounding landscape during construction.
The trail was designed and constructed to high standards of sustainability, with features that help prevent erosion, minimize impact to natural resources, reduce needs for maintenance, and enhance users’ experience. These features include a moderate grade, curvilinear design, and more than 200 masoned stone steps and hundreds of yards of rock armoring of the tread.
“Weed Patch Mountain Trail features state-of-the-art sustainable design and construction that offers a world class user experience in the Hickory Nut Gorge. Its artful trail design and masterful trail construction demonstrate its outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program funding,” said CRT co-chair Derrick Crandall.