The Birth of North Carolina’s Newest State Trail

Destination by Design partners with NC State Parks and local government organizations to plan and create the 60+ mile Fonta Flora State Trail, connecting Morganton to Asheville. 

In 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly approved legislation to establish the Fonta Flora State Trail (FFST).  Upon completion, the trail will extend from Morganton to Asheville, connecting Lake James, Marion, Old Fort, and Black Mountain.  Destination by Design has completed three of the seven section master plans.

From Plan Vision to Reality

DbD-designed trail facilities were constructed in late 2017 at the Fonta Flora State Trail County Park, signaling Burke County’s commitment to the implementation of this significant regional asset.

Broadening the Appeal of Existing Assets

The Fonta Flora State Trail finds its origins in the desires of Burke County citizens to increase quality of life for residents while providing a regional recreation and tourism asset that allows public access to the area’s cultural and natural resources.  
From Lake James to iconic Asheville to the charming downtowns of Morganton, Marion, Black Mountain, and Old Fort, the region has no shortage of recreational and cultural amenities.  By linking these assets, the FFST, a significant amenity in its own right, will further leverage mountains, waterways, and main streets which have made the region a destination for adventurers both near and far.

DbD has completed master plans for 3 of the 7 FFST planning sections, including sections 1, 2, and 3. 



Connectivity & Accessibility

When fully realized, the Fonta Flora State Trail will strategically link pedestrians, hikers, and cyclists to the region’s history, culture, and scenic outdoors.  By making the area’s vast array of amenities more accessible, the trail will encourage economic development throughout the region.
It was also imperative to develop a brand for the trail. Branding complements our planning work by bringing otherwise static plans to life and helping to establish an authentic sense of place. 

“Our team is passionate about adding long-term value to the communities we work in, beyond the tangible master plans that we often produce.”

Interactive Trail Plan Website

DbD designed an interactive website user and stakeholder engagement and project promotion.

SECTION 1: Lake James to Morganton

The FFST: Lake James to Morganton Section Master Plan was completed in the summer of 2018.  This section, linking Lake James to the city of Morganton, stretches over 21 miles and features 11 trailheads and 20 miles shared with the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.
This section of the FFST will provide critical connectivity between the trail’s hallmark outdoor asset—Lake James—and a major population center in the area.

Read the Lake James to Morganton Section Plan.

SECTION 2: Lake James Loop

Completed in the Spring of 2016, the FFST: Lake James Section Master Plan marks the beginning of the trail’s planning process.  Totalling 29.4 miles of greenway, this section encircles Lake James. Ten miles of trail as well as a new trailhead with custom facilities and artistic signage were constructed in 2017.
While realizing the full construction of the FFST will take years, the progress made in Burke County is a testament to the community’s commitment to making the FFST a success. 

Read the Lake James Loop Section Plan.

SECTION 3: Lake James to Marion

The FFST: Lake James to Marion Master Plan was completed in winter 2019.   This section totals 23.5 miles from Lake James to the City of Marion.  Key connections include the Fonta Flora Brewery, Black Bear Boat Access, Big League Camp, and the Joseph McDowell House in downtown Marion.

Read the Lake James to Marion Section Plan.