Oct. 21, 2014. Blue Ridge Conservancy and High Country Pathways, along with many partners will celebrate the opening of an additional one-mile section of the Middle Fork Greenway on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 3:30 p.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony in the Mystery Hill parking lot.
The section connects Mystery Hill Gem Mine and the recently completed Sterling Creek pocket park via a pedestrian tunnel under Hwy. 321. After this addition, 1.5 miles of the proposed 7-mile-long Greenway will be completed.
The Middle Fork Greenway task force, an initiative of local nonprofits High Country Pathways and Blue Ridge Conservancy, is spearheading the effort to build the Middle Fork Greenway which will run along Hwy. 321 and the headwaters of the South Fork of the New River connecting Blowing Rock to Boone. The Greenway will extend from the existing Boone Greenway to the network of paths in the vicinity of the “Shoppes on the Parkway” in Blowing Rock.
“We are thrilled to have this section of the Greenway completed and are profoundly grateful for the many partners that are coming together to enhance access to local recreational activities in the High Country,” said Ann Browning, Executive Director of the Middle Fork Greenway Association. “This new segment of the Greenway would not be possible without the involvement and commitment of NCDOT, Appalachian District Health Department, the Whitener family, and Mystery Hill, among many others.”
The Middle Fork Greenway Association formed in 2000 as an all-volunteer effort to promote a hiking and bicycling trail through an expanded buffer of green space. One of the founding members of the group said she believes the Greenway will offer a safer route for pedestrians and cyclists.
“In the early to mid-1900s people walked between Boone and Blowing Rock,” said Anne Burgess. “Now, the road is a super highway with tight twists and turns. We want to make it safe and accessible for cyclists and pedestrians.”
One of the missions of Blue Ridge Conservancy, a partner in the Greenway project, is to work with landowners and local communities to protect land and water resources with recreational and scenic value in northwest North Carolina.
“We are proud to be a part of this legacy project connecting Boone and Blowing Rock,” said Walter Clark, Executive Director of the Blue Ridge Conservancy. “Creating public recreation opportunities is a key part of our mission at BRC.”
The next section of the trail to be constructed will follow Hwy. 321 in front of Shoppes on the Parkway and will connect to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Mountains to Sea Trail, and the Appalachian Regional Healthcare’s new Chestnut Ridge facility. Fundraising is underway for this section.
The festivities will continue at Appalachian Mountain Brewery following the ribbon cutting. AMB is donating a portion of Wednesday’s proceeds to the Middle Fork Greenway.
Parking for the ribbon-cutting ceremony will be provided by Tweetsie Railroad.
For additional information, please contact Ann Browning at 828-264-2511 or [email protected]
For more information on the Middle Fork Greenway and photos of construction of this subsection of greenway, click here.
About High Country Pathways: High Country Pathways mission is to create a network of trail and paddle access points along the headwaters of the New River in North Carolina’s High Country. Its primary current initiative is the Middle Fork Greenway connecting Boone and Blowing Rock.
About Blue Ridge Conservancy: Blue Ridge Conservancy’s mission is to permanently protect land and water resources with agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational, and scenic value in northwest North Carolina. BRC has protected close to 18,000 acres in Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes, Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties.