This Saturday, go Deep and learn about N.C’s State Trails

Note: In addition to leading hikes and backpack trips, and maintaining this blog, I work for the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ Hometown Strong initiative, which works to help communities in North Carolina’s 78 rural counties. Because North Carolina’s 14 State Trails spend most of their time in rural areas, I get to spend some of my time helping people learn more about them.

Imagine being able to hike or paddle through the heart of the Piedmont for 125 miles with occasional stops in small towns. That’s the goal of the Deep River State Trail.

One of 14 State Trails in North Carolina, the Deep River begins in the Greensboro area and ends five counties later where it empties into the Cape Fear River. It’s one of only two State Trails — the other is the Haw River State Trail — that has both a paddle trail and land trail component. 

On the water you’ll encounter Class I and II water early on, mostly mellow flat water as the Deep nears the coastal plain. There are several river access points as the Deep passes through five counties.

On the land trail side, your options are more limited. Currently, there are less than 5 miles of land trail completed, all in the vicinity of Randleman and the adjoining towns of Franklinville and Ramsuer. 

Footbridge across the Deep River to Faith Rock

Saturday, there will be a guided hike on a 1.5-mile stretch of the Deep River State Trail headed downstream from Franklinville. Here, the trail follows an old rail bed paralleling the river. The trail is surrounded by a mature hardwood forest that offers ample shade on a hot summer’s day as well as protection from a light rain. Occasional side trails offer glimpses of the Deep as it makes its way southeast. Saturday’s hike turns around at a pedestrian bridge under construction that will link with existing trail into Ramsuer.

This portion of the hike is flat and largely stroller-friendly. There’s also an optional 1-mile hike to Faith Rock (pictured) which offers views of a rockier, more mountain-like stretch of the Deep. Both the hike and the paddle trip are sponsored by the entities making the Deep River State Trail possible: the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Piedmont Land Conservancy, Randolph County, Lee County, Deep River Park Association, and NC Great Trails State Coalition.

This is one of several hikes and paddles celebrating North Carolina’s State Trails in 2024. They’re a great way to get to know the emerging State Trails system, and to show support for their continued development. We’ll share a rundown of those events later this month.

In the meantime, make plans to join us this Saturday.

  • Learn more about Saturday’s 9 a.m. paddle trip and sign up to join us here.
  • Learn more about Saturday’s 2 p.m. guided hike and sign up to join us here.
  • Learn more about North Carolina’s State Trails here.

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