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AARP AARP States North Carolina Health & Wellbeing

2023 is the "Year of the Trail"

African American man walking on path in forest holding binoculars

When you were a kid, most often trails were reachable only after a boring car or bus ride which was a little too long or hard. As they say, "times have changed," and our state is making it easier than ever for you to get outside and active on a trail.

Whatever your age or mobility level, North Carolina has trails for walking or biking, as well as paved greenways that are wheelchair accessible. Many waterways have kayak and canoe trails, too.

AARP NC is part of the Year of the Trail Coalition and has been promoting "The Year of the Trail" with a goal of encouraging every North Carolinian to get outside on a trail in 2023. This campaign for trails will reach a wide range of communities across NC with a specific focus on engaging people of color.

“Trails promote livability, says Lisa Riegel, AARP North Carolina’s advocacy director. “Older adults who outlive their ability to drive can still walk or bike on trails to the ice cream store or to the doctor’s office,” she says. 

Why the big push now toward the great outdoors? For one thing, it’s like food for your brain and your body; trails offer an enjoyable way to relieve stress, stay connected, and get moving. Our state is blessed with thousands of trails, everything from the 1,175-mile Mountain to Sea Trail to paddling trails on the French Broad River to your local greenway. Trails are also great for local economies; a state study found that every dollar spent on trail construction generates $1.72 annually for local business and sales-tax revenue.

AARP in the NC Mountain Region is offering at least one walk or hike every month through the year, and we aim for a variety of landscapes, terrains, and communities. In February, for example, we took an urban “hike” through the Burton Street area of Asheville, a historically Black neighborhood. In late April we teamed up with The Nature Conservancy for a wildflower walk near Lake Lure. In Watauga County in June, AARP volunteers will lead an easy walk for all ages on the Middle Fork Greenway.

At AARP in the NC Mountain Region, when we say “Take a hike,” we mean it literally! To find a hike near you, go to

Find a Trail

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