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Land Purchased for Trails Near Lake Lure

Buffalo Creek flowing through newly protected land. By Virginia Hunter.

Conserving Carolina has purchased 21 acres of mountain land on the north side of Lake Lure as a potential addition to Buffalo Creek Park and the site of a future trail in the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail system. This property is part of the land needed to link Weed Patch Mountain Trail with Youngs Mountain Trail.  

Kristin Cozza, Trails and Greenways Coordinator with Conserving Carolina, says, “This land purchase moves us one step closer to fulfilling the vision of the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail—an ambitious 100+ mile network of sustainable, well-maintained trails showcasing the beautiful views and unique natural features of the Hickory Nut Gorge. We are grateful to the many local partners and private landowners working with us to achieve this vision.”   

This property on the edge of the growing Town of Lake Lure was an attractive site for development. However, its exceptional conservation values led Conserving Carolina to prioritize this land as a place for conservation and outdoor recreation. The land adjoins the 1,525-acre Buffalo Creek Park, which is traversed by the stunning Weed Patch Mountain Trail. The forested property also borders Buffalo Creek and provides clean water for this headwater stream that flows into Lake Lure. Additionally, a portion of the land lies within a state-designated natural area with exceptional biodiversity.  

The Town of Lake Lure is interested in potentially adding this property to its Buffalo Creek Park—a vast local park where hikers and mountain bikers can enjoy a convenient loop trail or venture further into remote mountains, arriving at breathtaking views of exposed rock faces in Chimney Rock State Park.  

Buffalo Creek Park currently spans 1,527 acres, which was originally purchased by Conserving Carolina from the downsized Grey Rock development, where Conserving Carolina continues to acquire land for conservation. Conserving Carolina built the award-winning Weed Patch Mountain Trail through this stunning mountain landscape.  

To the east, Conserving Carolina and the Town of Lake Lure have protected 437 acres on Youngs Mountain, where Conserving Carolina opened the dramatic Youngs Mountain Trail in 2021. The vision for the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail, which Conserving Carolina is spearheading, is to link Weed Patch Mountain Trail and Youngs Mountain Trail as part of a loop that travels all the way around Lake Lure. 

The newly protected 21 acres is part of the land necessary to link these two trails, although further land purchases will be needed. The property was purchased with funding from the NC Complete the Trails Fund, which is administered by the NC Division of Parks and Recreation, and the Fernandez Pave the Way Foundation 

Youngs Mountain Trail
Youngs Mountain Trail. By Gordon Tutor.
Weed Patch Mountain Trail
Weed Patch Mountain Trail. By Gordon Tutor.

“Congratulations to Conserving Carolina on this acquisition that utilizes their recent Complete the Trails Program grant,” said Jeff Michael, deputy secretary for the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Leveraging the support of local partners like Conserving Carolina was one of the legislature’s objectives when it funded the Complete the Trails Program in 2021, and it is gratifying to see this progress towards completing the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail. We look forward to the continued success resulting from this partnership.” 

Dana Bradley, the Parks, Recreation, and Trails Coordinator for the Town of Lake Lure, says, “The Town of Lake Lure is very happy that this property bordering Buffalo Creek Park is being acquired by Conserving Carolina. This is a great step towards connecting more trails within the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail corridor. It also creates the potential to expand the current trails at Buffalo Creek Park, create new trails, and increase opportunities for visitors to access this beautiful trail system.” 

Buffalo Creek flowing through newly protected land. By Virginia Hunter.

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