First Broad River TrailFirst Broad River Trail is currently closed to the public for trail maintenance. Please check back and enjoy the improved trail once work is done.

South Fork Rail Trail

The 1.8-mile South Fork Rail Trail runs along the South Fork of the Catawba River in the 324-acre Rhyne Preserve. The land surrounding the trail is protected by the Catawba Lands Conservancy and the natural surface and crushed gravel trail is perfect for light hike or mountain bike ride.
Trail Uses
Walking / hiking / running Mountain biking
Lincolnton (NC)
1.80 miles, One Way
Gravel/Crushed stone, Natural surface
Motorized Vehicles
Not Permitted
Permitted on leash
Parking Spaces
Dawn - Dusk


The South Fork Rail Trail is a combination of natural surface and crushed gravel trail, providing nice terraced views of the South Fork of the Catawba River. Enjoy biking or hiking along the 1.8 miles of trail located on the the 324-acre Rhyne Preserve and protected by the Catawba Lands Conservancy.

Visitors to the trail can experience one of Lincoln County’s finest natural areas, including mature floodplain forests along the South Fork Catawba River, a bald cypress swamp, rock outcrops, and lovely wildflowers.  The preserve also provides important habitat for migratory songbirds and other wildlife species. 

You can see the historic Laboratory Mill across the South Fork River which is now an event venue. This site was known as Lincoln Cotton Factory 1819-1863:

The mill's current name comes from the civil war era when the site served briefly as a medical laboratory. More history, as well as information about the current use, can be found on The Laboratory Mill Website.

Other Information

South Fork Rail Trail is a part of the Butterfly Highway. "The Butterfly Highway is a statewide conservation restoration initiative that aims to restore native pollinator habitats to areas impacted by urbanization, land use change and agriculture across North Carolina. From backyard Pollinator Pitstops to large-scale roadside habitat restoration, the project is creating a network of native flowering plants to support butterflies, bees, birds and other pollen and nectar dependent wildlife." NC Wildlife Federation-Butterfly Highway Website

Trail Manager

Visit Catawba Lands Conservancy website for more information or contact:

Catawba Lands Conservancy
Land Stewardship Director
2400 Park Road, Suite 1
Charlotte, NC 28203
704-342-3330 x1209
View website

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Trail Tips

Think About Drinks
It’s a good idea to drink water or hydrating fluids during the day, especially when you’re active. Bring along a water bottle or hydration backpack on the trail.
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Trailhead Information

Parking Address: Near 2677 Laboratory Road, Lincolnton, NC 28092. MAP

Trailhead Location: MAP

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Please Log In or Create Account to add comments.
August 17, 2023
Hi Abby,

Thank you for letting us know about this encounter. We are in direct communication with the property owner about the issue and working to resolve it so our trail users can remain safe. We are taking this issue very seriously and hope to have it resolved soon.

Thank you again for sharing your experience, and we hope you continue to use the Carolina Thread Trail.

- The Carolina Thread Trail Team
August 08, 2023
I had the same experience with the German shepherd. He left his property and came onto the trail where I was. He growled, barked and showed his teeth. When I tried to slowly back away, he circled me. It took another person coming along the trail and he was distracted and ran towards them. I carry pepper spray now and am prepared to use it.
June 07, 2023
Hi Gary,

Thank you so much for reporting this, and we are so sorry this happened to you. Our team is working with our partners who manage the trail to address it immediately. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any other concerns, our team is here to help.

-Carolina Thread Trail Team
June 07, 2023
6/5/23 Had bad experience with resident releasing dogs to harass walkers at beginning of second section of trail with large German shepherd acting very aggressive
June 07, 2023
6/5/23 Had bad experience with resident releasing dogs to harass walkers at beginning of second section of trail with large German shepherd acting very aggressive
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