Guest Posting by Chris Phelps, Executive Director, Davidson County Tourism Recreation Investment Partnership and Yadkin Riverkeeper Board Member
For 10,000 years, civilizations have gathered on the banks of the Yadkin River at the site of the soon to be opened Yadkin River Park in Davidson County. Located in the heart of both the Trading Ford and Yadkin River Crossings National Historic Districts, this site has served as a hub for exploration, commerce and revolution, as well as a connector of people and communities of all walks of life, for many generations. The park’s development was a major focus of the recent Piedmont Legacy Trails Summit held at Salem Lake Marina.
Native Americans who inhabited this area 10,000 years ago believed this land belonged to everyone. The Friends of the Yadkin River Park, appointed by the Davidson County Commissioners to oversee the development of the project, have designed this park with that very principle in mind. The primary features of this park overlooking the Yadkin River are the historic Wil-Cox Bridge and civil war era Fort York. The site also serves as the terminus of the 22-mile Daniel Boone Heritage Canoe Trail, which boast beautiful features such as Native American fish weirs, the Swicegood Mill Rapids, Boone Shoals, and Boones Cave Park, a 110-acre nature park.
The Yadkin River Park also serves as the northern most access to High Rock Lake, North Carolina’s second largest lake at just over 15,000 acres. The park is surrounded by an adjacent 1000 aces and 15 miles of shoreline of public land managed by the NC Wildlife Resource Commission. These game lands are some of the finest waterfowl impoundments in central North Carolina and were some of Daniel Boone’s favorite hunting and fishing areas as he honed his skills before beginning the western migration across the United States.
This park is not just for sportsmen or history buffs. With an existing 3 miles of trails that wind through the park and into the wooded entrenchments and rifle pits of Fort York, and the 1,300 feet long Wil-Cox Bridge that spans the Yadkin River connecting Davidson and Rowan Counties, opportunities for hiking, biking, and running are endless. Connectivity to the North Carolina Transportation Museum, just 3.5 miles away via the approved Spencer/Grants Creek Greenway is just around the corner. A proposed greenway connecting the park to the I-85 Corporate Center will add an additional 5-7 miles of trail to the park and is currently in the planning stages, along with a proposed 11-mile trail connecting the Yadkin River Park and Boones Cave Park.
Thanks to partnerships and funding sources from many federal, state and local agencies and foundations and the Davidson County Commissioners, the initial phase of the Yadkin River Park is set to be complete and open to the public in June 2019. A riverwalk and staircase connecting the Wil-Cox Bridge and the York Hill Boat access, picnic shelters, a plaza entrance to the bridge with benches and informational kiosks will keep visitor’s entertained for the day within the park boundaries.
Yadkin Riverkeeper will also be hosting its inaugural historical paddle at the park on May 18 and Friends of The Yadkin River Park have just launched a $1 million capital campaign to move to the next phase of this project. If you have an interest in being a part of the next chapter in the history books of a region rich with a storied past, please contact Chris Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how you can be involved.