ALBEMARLE — Construction and renovation of campground facilities, trails, picnic facilities and the pool at Morrow Mountain State Park will cause extensive amenity closures beginning June 13.
Closures will include three family campgrounds, family vacation cabins, and picnic shelter A. The park pool will remain closed this season for renovations.
Hikers and equestrians can expect periodic trail closures beginning June 13 for the next 12 months. Over 14 miles of trail re-routes and four miles of trail repairs will be completed during this time.
Facility construction and renovations will include pool renovation and splash pad construction; full renovation of family cabins and shower houses; several new camper cabins; picnic shelter renovation and an ADA accessible picnic area.
The projects at Morrow Mountain are part of statewide renovations, construction and trail repair at state parks that are beginning this year.
North Carolina’s state parks have seen visitor increases during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns and closures. A Penn State University study indicated almost 50% of adults in the U.S. participate in outdoor recreation at least once per month.
Hiking trails, parks and other open spaces were packed in 2020 with people searching for activities and fresh air during lock-downs. People took up hiking, biking, camping, tennis, golf and other outdoor pursuits in significant numbers as governments limited indoor sports and entertainment activities.
A report from the Outdoor Foundation, showed that 8.1 million more Americans went hiking in 2020 compared to 2019. Similarly, 7.9 million more went camping and 3.4 million more participated in freshwater fishing.
The report also reflected a general increased in activity for most age groups and across income levels.
State parks welcomed 23.4 million visitors in fiscal year 2020-2021, marking the highest visitation in the system’s history. The outdoors became a safe space for activity as closures of gyms, yoga studios and other indoor gathering places for exercise and recreation increased.
Despite most parks closing for nearly six weeks to adopt and implement new protocols during the pandemic, and due to county requests for closure to reduce inter-county travel, several parks saw a 20 to 40 percent increase in visitation compared to 2019. Twelve state parks never closed during the pandemic and most of them welcomed more visitors than ever before.
At Morrow Mountain, group campsites and backpack camping will remain open. For regular closure updates, visitors should check the park’s website.