Get outdoors in the new year: 2023 is the Year of the Trail in North Carolina 

Mountains in western NC are pictured in this undated file photo.

RALEIGH — Outdoor activities in the new year are being boosted by The Great Trails State Coalition’s campaign to highlight the legislature has designated 2023 as the Year of the Trail in North Carolina. 

It will be the largest celebration of trails and outdoor recreation in the state’s history. 

“NC Year of the Trail will celebrate and draw attention to North Carolina’s vast network of trails, greenways, and blueways,” reads the press release from The Great State Trails Coalition (GSTC). “These trails showcase our state’s diverse landscapes – from grand mountain vistas to quiet rivers, vibrant urban greenways, coastal forests, and the rolling hills of the Piedmont.” 

The North Carolina Great Trails State Coalition includes the Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail, East Coast Greenway Alliance, NC Horse Council, Carolina Thread Trail, The Conservation Fund, Fred Smith Company, McAdams, PermaTrack, and multiple county involvement. 

GSTC’s campaign starts on Jan. 1, 2023, under the banner “First Day Outdoors.” The kick-off invites citizens of all ages across the state to “find a trail to walk, run, hike, bike, paddle, or ride” and to visit a State Park for a “First Day Hike” or explore trails around the state. 

More information about the Year of the Trail will be disseminated statewide through social media, advertising, newsletters and other forms. Additionally, the campaign can be accessed by visiting 

In 2021, Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 554 designating 2023 as the Year of the Trail in North Carolina. The legislation encourages and promotes the use of local and regional trail networks and included funding to expand and enhance the state’s current trail networks. 

2023 was specifically chosen to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1973 North Carolina Trails System Act.  The legislation was spearheaded by Reps. Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke), Dean Arp (R-Union), Mike Clampitt (R-Swain), and Erin Paré (R-Wake). 

The state’s longest hiking trail system, the Mountains to Sea Trail, turned 49 in 2019. The trail system spans 1,1175 miles across the state from the Smokey Mountains all the way to the Outer Banks. 

About A.P. Dillon 1313 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_