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Belmont’s Rocky Branch Park to get improvementsBelmont’s Rocky Branch Park to get improvements

By Alan Hodge

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Ever since Rocky Branch Park in the Reid Community of Belmont opened in 2013, it has been one of the city and area’s most popular outdoor attractions. Now, plans are in the works that would see the park’s trail not only widened, but expanded as well.

Rocky Branch Park was originally constructed mostly with volunteer labor and as a place where folks could ride their mountain bikes on a primitive trail that winds for several miles through the woods. The trail became popular with hikers as well, so much so that the idea came into being of widening the path and having it join other nearby ones.

Connectivity between the various segments of the Carolina Thread Trail in Belmont and Cramerton has been a vision for many, and now the time is right for that to take place.

The idea is to link the Rocky Branch Park path with the Carolina Thread Trail so people can take it all the way from the park entrance at Sacco St. and Woodrow Ave. near downtown Belmont to the area near Stuart Cramer High in Cramerton. 

The Carolina Trailblazers organization was one of the first groups to pitch in when Rocky Branch Park was originally conceived and built. Now they are in the forefront of the plans for improvements and connection. The Trailblazers received a $25,000 gift and used part of it to fund a study by Community Trail Design of the Rocky Branch Park situation. The Trailblazers also created a committee of community members, local business owners, and Trailblazers members to come up with a list of goals for the park. The committee also took a survey of over 300 trail users to find out what the improvement project would actually involve. 

Belmont Parks and Rec. director Zip Stowe talked about the project.

“The new plan would widen the path along its length so walkers and riders could use it. Stowe said. “There will be several levels of difficulty depending on the topography of each section. The stages would be beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The path would remain unpaved.”

Stowe praised the concept of having the trail act as a link in the Carolina Thread Trail that would bring citizens in Belmont, Cramerton, and our area in general together in a positive way.

“This is a good project,” he said. “It will give more people access to the trail and add another dimension to the local outdoor recreational scene.”

Right now, the Rocky Branch Park trail improvement is in the planning stages- but all dreams begin with a plan. 

“We will begin having meetings soon with the Trailblazers, people in the Reid Community, and others who are interested,” Stowe said.