ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — Alamance Parks employees are helping to bring life to an ancient mountain range.
With rakes and chainsaws, workers are blazing a one-mile trail that will go to the top of the Cane Creek Mountains. Brian Baker is the director of Alamance Parks. He explained keeping the work in-house is cheaper and it gives the department a sense of pride.
“If you get to work on a brand new park, it’s exciting for everyone involved,” Baker said. “The staff has enjoyed doing it, but it’s hard work.”
The trail from the parking lot to the top of the mountain will be a part of a network of pathways that will cross the future Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area. Over the past 10 years, various Alamance Parks partners raised money to buy the roughly 1,000 acres that make up the southern Alamance County natural area. At its highest peak, the mountain stands 987 feet, making it the highest point east of Greensboro. While workers are building trails, benches and picnic spots, there are no plans to build other features like playgrounds.
“This park will be natural, perfect for hikers, people that want to get away from town and experience the natural world,” Baker said.
Recently, Alamance Parks received a $470,000 grant from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. Staff will build additional features like camping facilities and a new trail that will lead to an observation tower. From the top of the mountain on a clear day, the observation tower will allow visitors to see Durham and Greensboro. Baker feels spaces like the natural area is what people want.
“These natural parks are growing in popularity and we will get people from Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro to come here because it is a unique spot,” Baker said.
Another reason why the Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area will maintain its rustic charm is because it is also protecting the environment.
“This is the headwaters of a creek that flows into the Haw River which is a drinking source for Pittsboro and others downstream,” Baker said. “So this has real water quality and air quality benefits.”
Baker also said trees that were cut down for timber will be replaced.
“On that land we replanted long leaf pine and educating the public on reforestation. Controlled burns help the pine and that process will help educate the public too,” Baker said.
The Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area will be open to the public in late spring or early summer. The observation tower should be open fall of 2021.