What makes up the Middle Fork Greenway?
The Middle Fork rises in Blowing Rock and flows north to Boone, where, joined by the East Fork and Winkler’s Creek, it empties into the South Fork, which zigzags into northeastern Ashe County. There the South Fork joins the North Fork and becomes the New River, which flows northward through Virginia and into West Virginia, joining the Gauley River to form the Kanawha River. Eventually waters from the New River basin drain into the Gulf of Mexico via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The New River is one of the oldest river systems in the world, flowing through rocks that date back 1.1 billion years.
Native trees, shrubs and grasses absorb rainwater runoff, slow down floodwaters, filter pollution, trap sediment (reducing the work of municipal filtration plants), shade and stabilize streambanks, improve water quality, provide microorganisms and woody and leafy debris vital to aquatic communities, furnish cover, habitat and food for mammals, pollinators and songbirds, protect plant diversity, and help clean the air. They also grace our lives with beauty in every season.
A trail winding along the green buffer will link the sidewalks and trails of Blowing Rock with the Boone Greenway, and connect with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, increasing access to nature’s wonders and to recreational opportunities, and providing a safe, beautiful alternative transportation route between the two towns.
Sites have been acquired for three parks, at Payne Branch, Goldmine Branch and Sterling Creek. These and other sites will offer benches, picnic tables and designated access points to the river. Photographic and informational displays that identify the native flora and fauna will educate children and adults about river systems and trace the river’s role in the history of the communities that grew up along its banks. Just as springs, creeks, brooks and branches feed the Middle Fork, which feeds the South Fork, which joins the North Fork and becomes the New, our parks will give rise to a greenway which will one day be part of a broad network of trails connecting one river community after another.