The mission of F3ST is to bring together communities and volunteers to build, maintain, and promote the Fonta Flora State Trail connecting Buncombe, McDowell, and Burke counties for the enjoyment and education of people.

Fonta Flora Flash e-newsletter


How F3ST started: It became evident at the end of 2019 that a more coordinated effort between the 9 jurisdictions was needed to manage all the moving parts involved with completing a trail project of this scale. As a major advocate for the trail, the Friends of Lake James State Park (FLJSP) stepped up to the plate by initiating the formation of a Friends of Fonta Flora State Trail. With his prolific work in the NC Legislature on State Parks and State Trails, it was a natural fit to ask FLJSP Vice President and Emeritus Member Judge Robert C. Hunter to take a leadership role in the new organization – to which he graciously agreed to spearhead this important undertaking.

On December 18, 2019, the FLJSP hosted a reception at Fonta Flora Brewery at Whippoorwill Farm to celebrate and to announce the official formation of the Friends of the Fonta Flora State Trail, Inc. (F3ST). The event was a great success with close to 100 people in attendance, including state and local officials, businesses, conservation groups and enthusiastic public supporters of the trail.

Since that event, F3ST hit the ground running. McDowell County generously “loaned” staff member Blair Melton to help get the new organization off the ground. With the help of Shane Prisby from Burke County, Heather Cotton with the City of Marion, McDowell County Economic Development Director Charles Abernathy and Josh Harrold, Town Manager for the town of Black Mountain, the team developed bylaws and put together the foundational strategy for an effective 501c3 organization.

In the spring of 202, F3ST had its 501c3 status and a fully formed Board of Directors with equal representation of the 9 jurisdictions. The Board of Directors is composed of five representatives from each of the three counties (3 local government representative, a trails representative, and an economic development representative) plus designated seats for the Friends of Lake James State Park, Inc. the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, Inc. the YMCA of Western North Carolina, NC State Parks and a member from the WNC Bridge Foundation.

F3ST is grateful for the funding support from

The F3ST Board is supported by an Advisory Council. Members are employees and volunteers from the various stakeholder groups and local governments working to get the trail on the ground.

Beth Heile
Executive Director

Friends of the Fonta Flora State Trail, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization.