Photo: Spencer Mountain Landing 2009 by Nancy-Pierce
Over the last few years, Gaston County has increasingly become a destination for outdoor recreation, with water sports like kayaking and paddle boarding gaining in popularity. In turn, the draw of the rivers is bringing more tourists and their dollars to the area’s towns. Recognizing this, the Gaston County Board of Commissioner officially designated about 13 miles of the South Fork Catawba River and 26 miles of the Catawba River as blueways under the Carolina Thread Trail Master Plan.
In fact, visitors spent more than $291 million in Gaston County in 2019, an increase of 5.6 percent over the previous year, according to a study prepared for Visit North Carolina by the U.S. Travel Association. As COVID-19 created lockdowns around the country in the spring and summer of 2020, many Americans sought places of natural refuge like the Thread Trail where they could exercise and recreate in the fresh air. The pandemic brought about a renewed interest in the great outdoors, which has had a sustained effect on the tourism industry in Gaston County.
The Carolina Thread Trail is a regional network of trails that connect 2.9 million people in 15 counties in North and South Carolina. The Thread Trail is an example of unprecedented regional collaboration that works to connect people and communities to nature and each other through its 1,610 miles of trails, greenways and blueways. www.carolinathreadtrail.org