Changing the Landscape

Watauga County broke ground at Rocky Knob Park on May 31, 2010. Now we are enjoying the trails at Rocky Knob. In regards to park development, this is an impressive feat of time. About three miles of trail are nearing completion, five and 1/2 additional miles are designed and under construction, and we’ve logged over 1500 volunteer hours.

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Precisely one year from the first machine rolling onto Rocky Knob, Watauga County broke ground on another recreation facility: Watauga Gorge Park, the first official and legal access point of the Watuaga River Paddle Trail.  This three acre tract, generously donated by the Holton Family, is located at the intersection of Highway 321 and Old Watauga River Road. Flatwater and family paddlers will want to take out at this location, while more experienced kayakers, seeking access to the Watauga River’s Section III, will utilize the park as a “put-in.”

The Watauga County Tourism Development Authority received a $75,000 grant from the NC Recreation Trails Program to develop this access, which will include nine parking spaces, a boat loading and unloading zone, a shelter, grill, and canoe launch. This park will also serve as an access for anglers and for families to enjoy the stunning Watauga River.

What does a paddle access point at the other end of the county have to do with Rocky Knob Park? Each facility requires extensive planning, patience, and an incredible amount of work. They each provide residents and visitors to the county more recreation opportunities. But together, these facilities represent a changing landscape for Watauga County. These parks demonstrate a vision becoming reality. They are a deliberate and concerted effort to weave safe, legal, and accessible recreation facilities into the fabric of our community and are beginning to move recreation to the forefront of our high country lifestyle.

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