George Poston Park Trail System

The trails at George Poston Park are a collaborative effort between Gaston County Parks and Recreation and the Piedmont Area Singletrack Alliance (PASA). The trail features tight technical climbs and quick descents with beautiful runs along natural creeks, rock gardens, and thick woods. The trail was built primarily for mountain biking but has become a popular destination for runners, hikers, dog walkers, and nature enthusiasts. The scenic and hilly ten miles of trail also feature lush vegetation, fern banks, opportunities for viewing wildlife, and spectacular rare big leaf magnolias all at the base of Spencer Mountain. Spencer Mountain is a 1250 outer lying monadnock of the Appalachian Mountains.

photo: Fern Bank Ride Type: Mountain Bike Trail
Length: 10.00 miles
Loop Trail? Yes
Allowed Uses: Bicycling (off pavement)
Dogs - On leash
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Wildlife Observation
Agency: City, Town, or County
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

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Directions

Location: George Poston Park, Gastonia NC
States: North Carolina
Counties: Gaston
Latitude: 35.285484   Longitude: -81.10968

From I-85, Take Exit 22. At top of exit ramp, turn right onto Main Street, Main Street will turn into Lowell- Spencer Mountain Road.
Go approximately 2.5 miles; George Poston Park will be on the left.

Description

The land for the 344 acre George Poston Park was a gift to Gaston County from George and Edith Poston in 1987. Mr. Poston used the property for recreational purposes and wanted to see the land preserved as naturally as possible. The first phase of the park, featuring eight athletic fields and a horseshoe complex opened to the public in 2001. The park’s Master Plan also included trails, picnic areas, a lake, playgrounds and a park office. In 2005, representatives from Piedmont Area Singletrack Alliance (PASA) requested approval from Gaston County to build mountain bike trails at Poston Park. Park officials and PASA created a Memorandum of Understanding for the trail building and maintenance and construction began in 2006. The entire mountain bike trail was constructed only with hand tools. PASA volunteers include certified trail builders, trained in the latest environmentally sustainable trail building and maintenance techniques. Since beginning construction in 2006, trail construction is on-going with ten miles of trail on the ground and another 5 miles of future trail planned. To date volunteers have logged more than 5000 hours building and maintaining trails. Annually, Gaston County Parks and Recreation and PASA renew the MOU agreement that defines the responsibilities of each party. PASA is responsible for trail building and routine maintenance and Gaston County provides funding for capital improvements including bridges, parking, and restrooms. This unique public private partnership has benefited both trail users and the citizens of Gaston County who have access to this world class facility with minimal public dollars invested in the project.

The Poston trail system offers opportunities for bikers, hikers, and runners of all levels. The trails provide the only mountain biking trails in Gaston County. Trail parking is located at the lake parking lot and a large kiosk with the trail map is adjacent to the parking lot. The trail map shows the various loops in different colors which correspond to trail blazes on each loop. The stacked loop trail system begins just a few feet from the kiosk and the Kid’s Bike Trail is across the parking lot. PASA members and their children built the Kid’s Trail in 2013 and it offers beginners a feel for the Poston woods with flat trail and short mileage. The stacked loop system begins with the Lake Loop which features users views of the park’s lake and wildlife with minimal hills. The Lake Loop crosses two very narrow bridges with scenic views of the two feeder creeks that fill Poston’s lake. The Lake Loop connects to the Laurel Hill Loop which by design is a bit more challenging than the Lake Loop. This Loop features climbs, short yet technical downhills, two bridged creek crossings including one with a scenic water fall, and ridgeline trail through a lush mountain laurel forest. The next loop in the stacked trails is the Big Leaf Loop which begins just after yet another bridged creek crossing. True to its namesake, the Big Leaf Loop features plenty of the rare big leaf magnolias. These trees are only found in three states including very limited areas in North Carolina. The Big Leaf Loop also features beautiful creeks and plenty of ups and downs, tight singletrack, and bridges. The Big Leaf Loop connects to the Soccer Loop which is one of the more relaxed loops in the trail system, a perfect recovery trail before climbing into the Spencer Mountain Loop. The Spencer Mountain Loop is currently the final loop in the stacked loop system. It features tough climbs and fast descents at the base of Spencer Mountain which is an outer lying monadnock of the Appalachian Mountains. Beyond the obvious ups and downs the Spencer Mountain Loop includes some interesting option technical features for advanced mountain bikers including a few jumps and a ravine gap. The second half of the loop ends up passing through a very rocky section of the mountain providing an endless rock garden that will put mountain bike suspension to good use. Once completed with the Spencer Mountain Loop, users track back through the stacked loops on their way back to the ending on the Lake Loop back at the parking lot. The beauty of a stacked loop trail system is that riders do not have to ride the entire trail in one outing. As times allows or as a trail user becomes more experienced they can add loops to their outing. Additionally there is parking and a direct access point at the Soccer Loop for riders who want to start their adventure at the northern end of the trail closer to Spencer Mountain.

Future plans for Poston Park include additional parking in the lake/trailhead area, a new playground, additional miles to the trail system, and new lake/trailhead restroom. Poston Park Phase 3 plans include accessible paved trails leading to the South Fork River. These trails will connect with the Carolina Thread Trail. The Carolina Thread Trail is a regional network of greenways, trails and blueways that reaches 15 counties, 2 states and 2.3 million people. Currently there are 220 miles of trails open to the public – linking people, places, cities, towns and attractions.

Additional Details

Width: 36 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil, Compacted
Secondary Surface: Boardwalk
Rock, smooth

Average Grade: 8%
Elevation Low Point: 650
Elevation High Point: 1,000
Year Designated: 2015

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Brochure: Lake Runners

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Public Contact:
Cathy Hart
Director
Gaston County Parks and Recreation
Gaston County Parks and Recreation
PO Box 1578
Gastonia , NC 28053
704-922-2162
Cathy.Hart@gastongov.com

 

Photos

Race for RARE Bridge Runners

Race for RARE Bridge Runners

Big Oak Bike Rider

Big Oak Bike Rider

 

Bike Trail Jump

Bike Trail Jump

Fresh single track

Fresh single track

 

Runners Lake Loop

Runners Lake Loop

Mountain Bikers

Mountain Bikers

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