Preserving our land and water
Updated: Aug 13, 2021
Welcome To The Outdoors! Gaston County is committed to preserving natural spaces, not only to sustain the environment but to offer unparalleled access so everyone can enjoy them.
Visitors can paddle our rivers, bike under a canopy of towering trees or hike to the tops of quartzite peaks. From kayaks, paddleboards and canoes to mountain bikes, hiking shoes and climbing gear, if you have the passion we have a place to engage it.
Gaston County preserves the land and water so people can discover this outdoor wonderland located right inside metro Charlotte.
The Catawba Riverkeeper is the only non-profit, on-the-water advocate for the waterways in the Catawba-Wateree River Basin that protects and enhances rivers today for future generations.
They offer a variety of ways to experience the water with kayak rentals available at three locations in Belmont and McAdenville during the spring and summer months and through Eco-Tours that feature on the water and near the water trail experiences.
Mountain Island Educational State Forest
Soon to be newest of seven educational state forests across North Carolina, Mountain Island Educational State Forest will showcase the benefits of forest management in action and will provide a wonderful spot for educational outdoor experiences. Currently under construction, it will open to the public in the near future.
This non-profit organization works directly with local land managers, building and assisting in the maintenance of over 110 miles of carefully constructed, sustainable mountain bike trails, in the Charlotte metro region.
They are the voice of advocacy for mountain bikers, building and maintaining trails for people to enjoy for generations to come.
Gaston County trails include Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly and Rocky Branch Trail in Belmont.
Municipal Trails & Parks
The Gastonia Parks and Recreation Department provides a variety of active and passive recreational opportunities for all ages and preserves valuable open space for the enjoyment of the public at its parks, trails and greenways.
A recent lease agreement allows Gastonia to develop the site of the former Linwood Golf Course. Currently owned by the State for public recreation, the existing concrete golf cart path will potentially add dozens of miles to Gaston County’s trail network.
Rankin Lake Park features an 80 acre lake with a1.5 mile paved trail that runs the perimeter, as well as an office to handle boat rentals including jon boats, canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats. The park is also a connector to the Highland Rail Trail.
George Poston Park is situated at the base of Spencer Mountain in Lowell and features 13 miles of trails built by Piedmont Area Singletrack Alliance (PASA). The park is also home to North Carolina’s first asphalt pump track.
Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park is located on the Catawba River in Belmont and offers a kayak launch ramp which serves as a beautiful location to start a day on the water.
The City of Mount Holly provides access to greenway trails and mountain bike trails. The 1.2-mile greenway trail that connects Tuckaseege Park to the Mount Holly Municipal Complex is a paved trail that takes visitors along the picturesque Catawba River.
Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly is home to a 1.6-mile natural surface trail that meanders through the woods and is home to many types of wildlife. This trail starts at the parking lot below the dam and continues into the woods.
The Cramerton Parks and Recreation Department maintains 10 greenways and trails totaling over three miles and is responsible for six access points to the South Fork Catawba River.
Rocky Branch Park a popular recreational park in Belmont, is currently undergoing upgrades to make it a must see outdoor attraction for visitors to Gaston County. When completed this park will offer an extensive trail system for hikers and mountain bikers of all skill levels providing easy, moderate and challenging trails.
Piedmont Area Singletrack Alliance (PASA)
PASA strives to both secure land for trail development as well as manage and maintain them throughout the Central Piedmont region of North and South Carolina.
They advocate for public use of natural spaces in our local communities to promote recreation and are responsible for creating the 13 miles of single track trail for mountain biking, hiking and running at Poston Park in Lowell.
Carolina Thread Trail
The Carolina Thread Trail is a 1,610 mile regional network of greenways and blueways, located within 15 counties of North and South Carolina and is an example of unprecedented regional collaboration, connecting people with nature. In Gaston County they’ve helped to make 29.2 miles of greenways and 8.4 miles of blueways possible.
Catawba Lands Conservancy (CLC)
CLC is a land trust – a nonprofit, community-based organization that conserves and manages ecologically rich land to protect wildlife habitats and local drinking water in the Southern Piedmont of North Carolina for the benefit of the public. Their mission is to connect people with nature and currently handle 190 properties totaling nearly 17,000 acres with 4,731.7 total acres in Gaston County.
Crowders Mountain State Park
The beauty and diversity of Crowders Mountain State Park can be appreciated from its miles of hiking trails that lead along the ridges to the summits of Crowders Mountain and the Pinnacle. Other trails offer easy promenades through pastoral surroundings, run along a narrow creeks and one circles the lake. Bring a pair of binoculars and do some bird watching or tote a camera to capture the beauty of wildflowers in bloom as well as the spectacular views.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
Discover the waterways and natural wildlife of the Whitewater Center by paddling the calm waters of the Catawba River where it is located.
The Whitewater Center’s 1,300 acre property also offers over 50 miles of trails for hiking, trail runs and mountain biking through hardwood and pine forests, alongside rivers, creeks, and ponds.