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Gaston Gazzette, Mt. Holly Trails
Mount Holly may get new biking trails

BY DANA HAYDOCK Gazette Staff Reporter

MOUNT HOLLY — Mountain biking enthusiasts could ride a new set of trails in Mount Holly as early as this fall.

The city of Mount Holly approved a lease agreement with the city of Gastonia Tuesday to lease 437 acres known as the Donald E. Carmichael Environmental Conservancy located on Mountain Island Lake. The city plans to make an agreement with the Tarheel Trailblazers, a non-profit mountain biker’s club, to build and maintain trails on the site.

“I’d like to think people can be riding out there as soon as this fall,” said Jeff Smith, a founding member of the club. “We need to clean up the existing trails, put bridges over creeks and put directional signs up.” The lease carries a fee of $1 per year.

Duke Power rights of way as well as existing trails worn from illegal riding over the years will serve as easier routes. The club will connect those with thinner trails that will be more challenging, Smith said.

Smith envisions 15 to 20 miles of trails.

“If we have 15 to 20 miles of trail it becomes a destination,” he said.

The project is part of a larger vision to use open space along the Catawba River, including the U.S. National Whitewater Center, to create a corridor of natural outdoor recreation facilities known as the Catawba Outdoor Center.

The Trailblazers already maintain about 30 miles of mountain biking trails in Charlotte in partnership with Mecklenburg County.

The club used its equipment and supplies to build the trails on Mecklenburg County park property. They maintain trails at Renaissance Park near downtown, Colonel Francis Beatty Park near Weddington, North Mecklenburg Park in Huntersville, Fisher Farm Park in Davidson and Catawba Riverfront Park where the whitewater center will be built.

“It’s been a positive relationship,” said Mike Cozza, spokesman for Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation.

“They demonstrated a recreational interest that we weren’t tuned into to begin with.” Club members are trained according to the International Mountain Biking Association standards for trail construction. Smith said they use the existing contours of the land to avoid creating erosion problems.

“We don’t like to cut down trees,” Smith said. “We like to create a thin ribbon of trail going through the woods.” The city of Gastonia bought the land on which the trails will be built for $9.4 million in 1999 from a developer who planned to build a lakefront subdivision. The purchase was intended to protect water quality in Mountain Island Lake from which 95 percent of Gaston County residents get their water.

You can reach Dana Haydock at (704) 869-1819.

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Tarheel Trailblazers | 182 Saddle Road | Mooresville, NC 28115
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