Guilford County government is interested in enhancing and growing the Haw River trail and, to that end, the county is about to enter into a new agreement with other local governments that are also home to the trail and want to see its benefits maximized in the coming decade.

The parts of the Haw River Trail currently open to the public include four recreational parks, 20 miles of hiking trails, 40 miles of paddle trail, and 14 paddle accesses from Guilford County through Alamance County to the Orange County line.

Guilford County’s section of the 80-mile trail consists of 20 miles of land trails in northeastern Guilford County as well as 14 miles of “paddle trail” – that is, a waterway designated for kayaks, canoes and small boats.  Guilford County’s trail property includes the Brooks Bridge paddle access point at 7403 Brooks Bridge Road in Gibsonville.  That access point opened to the public in 2018.

The Haw River trail and its corridor are popular for activities such as hiking, paddling, picnicking, fishing and birdwatching.  There are also those who just enjoy the beautiful views found along the trail.

Guilford County is one of 11 local governments that – together with the State of North Carolina – formed the Haw River Trail Partnership that’s meant to preserve, grow and enhance the trail. The goal has been, and still is, to make the Haw River Trail a regional corridor that will benefit nature and nature lovers alike, while simultaneously bringing tourist dollars and other benefits to the regional economy.

The Haw River Trail was originally proposed by the State of North Carolina, as a part of the state’s trail system with the goal of “helping the public conserve the natural and scenic resources of the Haw River, while opening up recreation opportunities along this protected landscape.”

Just over a decade ago, an agreement was created to oversee and direct the “multi-jurisdictional trail system.” Guilford County was one of the local governments that signed that original agreement, which has now expired.

On Thursday, Jan. 5, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners intends to enter into a new 10-year agreement regarding the Haw River Trail, which passes through Alamance County, Chatham County, Orange County, Rockingham County, the City of Burlington, the City of Graham, the City of Greensboro, and the towns of Haw River, Pittsboro and Swepsonville.  Those governments are also expected to enter into the updated agreement.