2023 is Year of the Trail in North Carolina


With the support of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, the Great Trails State Coalition announced the launch of the 2023 North Carolina Year of the Trail campaign, which will celebrate North Carolina’s vast network of trails, greenways and blueways - including the East Coast Greenway. 

These trails showcase the state’s diverse landscapes – from grand mountain vistas to quiet rivers, vibrant urban greenways, coastal forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont. North Carolina Year of the Trail is the largest statewide celebration of trails and outdoor recreation in state history and will firmly establish North Carolina as “The Great Trails State.”

Within North Carolina, the East Coast Greenway features a 365-mile spine route and a 425-mile complementary coastal route. The 75-mile stretch of greenway from North Durham through Cary, Raleigh and Clayton forms the longest nearly continuous stretch of the entire 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway in a metropolitan area. 

In 2021, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 130 into law, officially designating the East Coast Greenway as a unit of the North Carolina State Parks system and an official North Carolina State Trail. 

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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signs House Bill 130 into law, officially designating the East Coast Greenway as a unit of the North Carolina State Parks system.

That same year, North Carolina’s General Assembly passed a bill designating 2023 as NC Year of the Trail. This effort was led by Representative Hugh Blackwell of Burke County and the Great Trails State Coalition.

The bill makes law recognizing and celebrating North Carolina’s comprehensive network of public trails and greenways constructed and managed by local, state and federal agencies and nonprofit partners. Trails and greenways are a vital part of community infrastructure, providing significant health, economic and transportation benefits, and are the cornerstone of North Carolina’s $11.8 billion outdoor recreation industry.

Working collaboratively with NC State Parks, the NC Department of Transportation and other partners across the state, the Great Trails State Coalition has developed an informative and engaging campaign that will reach all of North Carolina through multiple communication channels, including social media, advertising, events and newsletters, delivering content and stories about the positive impacts of trails in communities across the state. The campaign aims to inspire people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to use trails, boost outdoor recreation tourism, advance inclusion and diversity on trails, promote safe and responsible use of trails, and recognize the contributions of volunteers in building and maintaining trails.

The campaign kicks off on January 1, 2023, with “First Day Outdoors” - an invitation for everyone to find a trail to walk, run, hike, bike, paddle or ride. Throughout the year, events will be held in every county, including special events in State Parks, guided trail experiences, clean-ups, celebrations and more. 

In addition, the Great Trails State Coalition will share videos and content telling stories about trails and people in North Carolina. 

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