Pender County

NC - Wilmington leaders make proposal for Topsail to join 3000-mile East Coast recreation route

With hikers and bicyclists pushing themselves for miles on the East Coast Greenway, officials in the Wilmington area are working to make the Topsail region a part of their journeys.

The Cape Fear Council of Governments is leading a feasibility study for a proposed 16-mile corridor along N.C. 210, which will connect the communities of Hampstead, Surf City, and North Topsail Beach.

More:As state officials study strength of N.C. 210, community ponders growth north of Hampstead

If complete, it will be part of the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile walking and biking route stretching from Maine to Florida.

The organization is seeking input from the public and is being assisted by the Wilmington Urban Metropolitan Organization, NC State Trails, North Carolina Department of Transportation, Surf City, the East Coast Greenway Alliance, Friends of Mountains-to-Sea Trail and Pender County.

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Tammy Proctor, director of Pender County's tourism department, said it will health and economic development opportunities for the area.

"People want to get out on these trails," she said. "We've seen an increase in trail foot traffic since COVID. People want to be outdoors. So, the timing of this is fantastic. We're excited to see the feasibility study."

In North Carolina, the route passes through Durham, Raleigh, Fayetteville and Wilmington and follows the Neuse and Cape Fear river corridors. Along with those spots, the historic coastal route extends south from Virginia on the Dismal Swamp Canal and to the North Carolina coast, linking Greenville and Jacksonville before going into Wilmington.

Paving a way

Officials said the proposed trail is the critical missing link in the trail and for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which is a 1,200 route from the Clingmans Dome on the Tennessee border to Jockey's Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks.

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