Local Stories

Williamston’s Skewarkee Rail Trail Promotes Community Health and Connections with Nature

Williamston, NC
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“We are happy that Williamston is a place where our citizens can be close to nature and better their health."


As North Carolina’s first Audubon Certified Sustainable Community, Williamston strives to link quality of life for residents with the surrounding natural environment.

Situated at a bend in the Roanoke River and on the edge of the Roanoke National Wildlife Refuge, Williamston is a hub of history and nature in Eastern North Carolina. Through a grant from RTP for $44,000, along with a match from the local government and other local entities, Williamston funded and facilitated the development of the Skewarkee Rail Trail.

“We are proud of the Skewarkee Rail Trail and the benefits it brings to our community,” said Mayor Joyce Whichard-Brown, who lives two blocks from the trail’s start downtown. “We are happy that Williamston is a place where our citizens can be close to nature and better their health, and we strive to continue this vision in the coming years.”

This one-mile trail connects historic downtown Williamston with the Roanoke River and the town’s two river parks, Moratoc and River Landing. The trail follows the path of the old railroad, highlighting the historical importance of Williamston as a port town on the Roanoke River. While the barges no longer venture up this far, residents of Williamston still enjoy the fast-moving beauty of the Roanoke. Moratoc Park hosts a playground, a picnic shelter and a building extending over the river for hosting events. River Landing Park is home to a 550-foot-long boardwalk along the river, a double boat launch and a kayak launch. Through a partnership with Roanoke River Partners, there is a camping platform available for reservation which offers river views and easy access to downtown amenities by way of the Skewarkee Trail.

Most recently, the Martin County Arts Council, in partnership with the Town and Williamston Downtown Inc. hosted the first downtown 5k in May of 2019. The route centered on the Trail in its entirety, turning into the Town’s historic district, heading down to the River and back.

The Trail is a major asset to development in downtown Williamston and to the health of the Town as a whole.