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Feb. 12, 2024, 4:35 p.m.

Trail of the Month: The Peavine Trail

Peavine Group Walk

Trail of the Month: The Peavine Trail

While McDowell County is known for its growing network of exciting trails through the Pisgah National Forest, our little Blue Ridge Community also boasts an array of community and culture trails that explore the rich culture around us.

For the month of February, we’ve partnered with McDowell Trails Association to highlight the transformation of the Peavine Trail in downtown Marion, North Carolina!

This trail winds its way through the city, the echoes of the railroad history, and passes along the edges of Morehead Cemetery, the historic burial place for so many African-American families in McDowell County. Efforts from amazing community groups over the past decade have worked hard to restore this historic cemetery. Walking the Peavine Trail is a reflection of the history and change in not just McDowell County, but our country as well.

Silhouette Peavine
The view from Peavine Trail allows a look at the history surrounding McDowell County, NC.
© Photography by Omi Salavea

The Peavine Trail runs for 1.5 miles from State Street in downtown Marion, North Carolina to just south of the First Christian Church on Rutherford Road. Construction of the crushed gravel and grass trail began immediately after the City of Marion’s purchase of 2.4 miles of the abandoned Peavine Rail Line from Norfolk Southern in 2010. The railroad corridor originally extended southward from Marion to Camden, South Carolina and was opened for operation in 1890 by the Georgia and Carolina Midland Railway Company. This rich history of the Peavine Trail is evident at the current Rutherford Road endpoint, where barricades prevent access to a gorgeous but structurally unsound original wooden trestle.

The Isothermal Rail-Trail feasibility study is underway to connect the Peavine Trail with the Thermal Belt Trail in Rutherford County. This may include the rehabilitation or demolition of the trestle to allow for the extension of the Peavine Trail to McDowell Technical Community College in the future.

For parking and access information, check out McDowell Country Trail Association’s website here:

Peavine Trail
The Peavine Trail overlooks several parts of Historic Marion while mirroring some of the old rail line routes through the city

The Peavine Trail is a great 365 trail to take any time of year. During the Spring and Summer this trail is well-shaded during most parts of the day, and during the Fall or Winter months the trail offers a nice wind-block with trees along both sides of the trail.

As this is a trail running through the heart of Marion, off-street parking is available at the old Rescue Squad building adjacent to trailhead off State Street. Additional parking at First Christian Church on Rutherford Road (this option is unavailable on Sundays 9am-12:30 pm). Once you take a break from all the downtown attractions and shopping in Marion, take a breather and visit this soft-gravel route through our community!

Peavine Fundraiser
Goals for the Peavine Trail include a Fundraiser
© Photo by Steve Pierce

The current Peavine Trail ends at the north end of a railroad trestle which is closed to all users. The trestle is located behind Mi Morelia restaurant on Rutherford Road and needs extensive repairs to enable it to be used which then will allow extension of the trail to Jacktown Road. An engineering study addressing the trestle was completed in 2019. Grant funding requiring a local match will be necessary for trestle repairs.

The MTA’s Preserve the Past, Build the Future: Save the Peavine Trestles campaign will raise funds to help repair the trestles and extend the Peavine Rail Trail to Jacktown Road adding an additional mile to the trail. If you would like to help preserve the history of trails, rails, and culture in our little community, please donate to McDowell Trail Association’s Fundraiser on their website HERE: