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Thermal Belt Rail Trail gets another recognition

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ThermalBelt Rail Trail. Photo by: Michael Benfield.

The Thermal Belt Rail Trail has been included among seven rail-trails in America worth experiencing in a story published in August by " AAA Go" magazine.

In a story written by Jeanine Barone for the magazine, Rutherford County trail trail, along with six others in the country, was highlighted for family outdoor adventures.

Barone says, "The decline in train travel as a prime mode of transportation in the U.S. has had an unexpected upside. Many abandoned railroad corridors have been, and continue to be, repurposed as greenways for human-powered activities like bicycling, walking and jogging. These rail-trails, as they're called, provide a great outdoor adventure for your next family road trip."

Of the Thermal Belt Rail Trail, Barone says: Aptly named for the isothermal belt -- a temperature inversion producing milder temperatures in the area -- this almost 14-mile trail is a delight year-round, even in winter. The most rural cycling is along the five-mile northern section starting at Gilkey. Especially appealing in the hot summers, the dense forest of sugar maples, white pines and red oak provides much needed shade. History buffs gravitate to the Bechtler Mint Site, some two miles from Gilkey, to peer into the former gold mine shaft and learn about the area's gold mining past. This rail trail also recognizes its previous life as the corridor for the Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherford Railroad line, and later the Southern Railway. Two replica steel bridges -- one quite grand -- pay homage to the original bridges that trains once traversed, and a 12-foot section of rail is incorporated into each cement mile marker.

The other six rail trails Barone highlighted are:

• Withlacoochee State Trail, Florida

• Virginia Creeper Traila, Virginia

• Shelby Farms, Greenline, Tennessee

• Swamp Rabbit Trail, South Carolina

• Silver Comet Trail, Georgia.

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