December wraps up North Carolina's exciting Year of The Trail!
While the "year" is technically coming to an end, we have had an adventurous year featuring introductions to a lot of our Parks and Trails, how one can explore those trails, why trails benefit our health, setting trail goals, and being thankful for the outdoor spaces we have! Throughout 2023, we focused on several of our Catawba County Parks and Trails that span from hiking and biking, arts and murals, to so many more! Thank you for hitting the trails with us!
In Catawba County, we have over 50 parks and trails to serve as places to explore, grow, and learn in nature.
To recap, our major Catawba County Parks are:
-Riverbend Park, named after its idyllic location along the Catawba River, this 690-acre park's 19.7-mile trail system winds through two distinct habitats that are home to a variety of wildlife: densely wooded upland forest popular with hikers and preserved native grasslands affectionately known as "trail runner's heaven." Visitors to Riverbend also enjoy river access for paddling, a dog park, and an observation deck perfect for viewing Oxford Dam or casting a line.
-Bakers Mountain Park, located on the highest elevation point in Catawba County (1780 feet). The park features 189 acres of mature chestnut oak forest with nearly 6 miles of trails. You will experience a variety of wildlife and plants native to the North Carolina Mountains.
-Mountain Creek Park which opened in 2022 is located on the northwestern tip of Lake Norman in Sherrills Ford. This 606-acre park features an extensive 19.52-mile trail network and a host of other amenities including an adventure playground, a mountain bike skills course and tool stations, pickleball courts, a dog park, a fishing pier, canoe/kayak launch, an outdoor classroom, an observation platform, picnic shelters and a paved ADA-accessible trail that winds through a quiet cove. Mountain biking is at the heart of Mountain Creek Park. Along with dedicated bike-only trails and endless route variations within the trail system, Mountain Creek Park is destined to become a regional mountain biking destination.
We love it when you visit us!
Check out Catawba County Park System’s visitation numbers over the past five years:
FY17/18: 160,803 total visitors
FY22/23: 541,820 total visitors (WOOHOO!)
- That is a 336% growth in county park system visitation over the past five years
- Our biggest visitation numbers have traditionally been at Riverbend Park, which is located along the Catawba River at the upper tip of the county. Last year, Riverbend saw nearly 148,000 visitors.
- Mountain Creek Park, which opened just over a year ago in Sherrills Ford, is solely responsible for driving these numbers up – most likely due to its 19 miles of mountain biking trails, pickleball courts, and amazing playground. This past year, the park saw nearly 320,000 visitors.
- These numbers are proof of how much people enjoy the outdoors – and especially mountain biking – in Catawba County.
- Continuing to provide access to our amazing outdoors and preserved natural heritage is the ongoing mission of our parks.
With all those locals and visitors checking out our parks, there are a lot of people behind the scenes making sure that each person is safe. We want to say a massive THANK YOU to all the park rangers serving at our parks. We appreciate all that you do for our Catawba County Park System!
Throughout 2023, we have focused on several of our Catawba County Parks and Trails and how to maximize your adventures. The Year of the Trail doesn't have to end in 2023, keep it going with amazing adventures to our local parks and trails. Set goals for yourself and make sure to take time to get outside!
As we go into this new year (2024) we are most excited for more adventures, more trails, and enjoying Catawba County's natural beauty! Remember to "Leave No Trace" and tag us in your epic adventures! Cheers to a New Year of adventure!