Riding at the Refuge:
Biking the Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge
Saturday, March 26th
*Registration special - The first 15 people to register for this event will receive our brand-new water bottle, free of charge!
**Catawba Lands Conservancy and Carolina Thread Trail are acting in compliance with local and national guidance on COVID-19, and encourage all program participants to take actions to ensure the safety and comfort of those around them, including maintaining distance and/or wearing a mask if unvaccinated.
Join us for a unique program, offered for the first time ever! The staff from Catawba Lands Conservancy and Carolina Thread Trail will be leading two separate bike rides on U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services' Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge, the only national refuge in the entire Thread Trail footprint! Located about an hour east of Charlotte in Anson County, this rarely-visited refuge is a hidden gem in the Carolina Piedmont. The refuge covers almost 9,000 acres of protected habitat, a sanctuary for countless wildlife but especially the thousands of ducks and geese that spend their winters here annually. By March the waterfowl will mostly be gone, but the area still provides excellent birding opportunities and the plants and grasses will be starting to emerge.
This program will be comprised of two bike rides of different lengths to accommodate many different skill levels. We invite all participants to bring lunch and join us for a picnic following the rides! Staff from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will join us at lunch to talk about the refuge, prescribed fire, and wildlife management! The group will also get a sneak-peek at the refuge's interpretive center, which is usually closed on Saturdays.
Starting times for each tour will be staggered so that they can end around the same time and we can enjoy lunch as a group. We strongly recommend you arrive half an hour before your start time. Coffee will be provided in the morning. Details for each ride are listed below.
Ride A - The Tour de Pee Dee
Start Time: 9:00am
End Time: ~12:00pm
Course: ~25 miles, 95% gravel roads, minimal elevation change
Bret Baronak, director of the Carolina Thread Trail, will take more serious cyclists on a journey to ride all the traversable roads in the refuge without too much overlap or backtracking. The whole trip is approximately 25 miles, This ride is considered semi-arduous and participants will need a bike that is in good repair and participants should have a medium-high fitness level. (Note: a hybrid bike for use on a paved greenway will not perform well on the gravel roads.) The ride isn't a race, but it's no walk in the park either. Riders will be rewarded with amazing views of the Pee Dee River, cruising through longleaf pine forests (rare in North Carolina), wetlands, managed farmlands, and more!
Ride B - Fields and Forests of the Pee Dee Refuge
Start Time: 10:00am
End Time: ~12:00pm
Course: ~10 miles, all gravel roads, low grade
Sharon Wilson, director of Land Stewardship will take riders on a somewhat laid-back tour through the refuge. This group will stop occasionally to discover some of the hidden nooks and crannies that will make you want to explore every inch of the refuge! One of the standout destinations will be the areas that are flooded every winter to create habitat for ducks and geese. Sharon is also a great resource for questions you might have about anything you see out there, so ask away!
*IMPORTANT* - While we would love to accommodate people of all skill levels, neither tour is intended to be a ride for beginners or participants under the age of 12 years old. All participants will have to bring their own bike and helmet, and are expected to keep up with the group for the entire trip. Please only join a group if you are confident that you can bike the entire distance listed at a reasonable speed. There will not be a vehicle to return riders to the starting point.
Thank you for registering to join us at Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge! We will send an email to you the week of the program with further details. If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org