The Ecusta Trail, when complete, will be a 19.4 mile, multi-use greenway along an unused railway corridor ('rail-trail') connecting Hendersonville and Brevard. This 'linear park' will beckon people of all ages and abilities to reach destinations by walking, running, biking and wheelchair. The rail line meanders through fields and forests, beside streams, pastures and country churches, offering a picture-book walk through a life nurtured and cradled in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Our dream is to convert this abandoned rail line into a "new cultural main street" connecting communities, promoting health, enriching the quality of life and the economy for everyone. In time, we envision the Ecusta Trail becoming the premier destination greenway in the Southeast.
Since its construction in 1894, the railroad mainly supported the local paper and timber industries. Rail service stopped in 2002. A grassroots effort formed a 501(c)(3) in 2009 called the Friends of Ecusta Trail with the mission to build a multi-use greenway on the unused rail line. A key breakthrough occurred in 2019 when Blue Ridge Southern Railroad, a division of Watco Companies (owner of the rail corridor), offered to federally "railbank" the line for trail use. As a relatively young 501(c)(3), the Friends of Ecusta Trail reached out to Conserving Carolina for expertise and guidance in navigating the purchase of the rail line for the purpose of building a rail-trail. Ecusta Rails2Trails, LLC (a subsidiary of Conserving Carolina) then purchased the railbanked corridor with grant awards from NC DOT, the Henderson County Tourism Authority and the Transylvania County Tourism Authority. A timeline of the history and accomplishments can be found a www.ecustatrail.org/timeline.