COLUMBUS – Polk County has been awarded a grant from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund to purchase 300 acres of Little White Oak Mountain.


The purchase helps preserve one of the iconic views in Polk County and will make the land available to public through an extensive trail system.


The land borders the existing Polk County Recreation Complex near Polk County Middle School. Once developed into trails, the land will serve as Polk County’s only trails system designed to accommodate mountain bikes. The trails will also be open to hiking and running.


The total grant received by the county is $375,000. The county will be able to use the grant to acquire the land with no local tax dollars given a generous donation of land value by the property owner, Conserving Carolina, and because of private donors. Conserving Carolina will donate about $600,000 in land value by selling the land to the county below the appraised value.


Conserving Carolina is raising additional money through private donations and still needs to raise around $10,000. That fundraising is ongoing and anyone interested in donating can contact Conserving Carolina through its website (conservingcarolina.org) or by phone at 828-697-5777.


Polk County Parks and Recreation will work with partners to develop the land into multi-use trail system. The trailhead for the system will be at the current Polk County Recreation Complex and thus won’t require any additional expense. Grants will be sought to fund professional construction of the trail system. It is expected that between 7-10 miles will be built on the land. No timeframe for beginning construction has been set.


Conserving Carolina purchased the land as part of a larger tract it in late 2016. They bought a 1,068-acre tract north of Hwy 108. The land extends from an area north of Houston Road to the northeast to its border with the Polk County Recreation Complex. It includes most of the southern flank and ridgeline of Little White Oak Mountain. It was once proposed to be a large subdivision.


Conserving Carolina has partnered with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and is seeking additional grant money to allow NCWRC to purchase about 600 acres to add to the Green River Game Lands. Part of the remaining acreage is proposed to be workforce housing.

Here is the site plan for proposed property boundary and trails.