Gaston is the crown jewel of the Piedmont. From Crowders and Kings mountains to the west to the Catawba River in the east, this geographic masterpiece offers recreational opportunities around every bend. Indeed, re-creation happens to all residents who recreate here. During this third week of GO Month, we will celebrate the many outstanding recreational and cultural resources that Gaston County residents and visitors alike have come to love.

The mountains beckon to those who want to ascend the rocky trails from the bottom to the top. Short, long, steep, and deep paths with ascending degrees of difficulty motivate climbers who use their feet, hands, and wiles to find the way up. Even rock and mountain climbers can explore and develop climbing skills under the sheer face of a steep cliff. Why do we climb these mountains? Because they are there - carved into the land by our creator for us to enjoy.

The foothills and plains attract county residents and visitors for a variety of recreational activities. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden uniquely transforms an ordinary day into an eye feast of beauty and offers wellness initiatives to corporations and individuals alike. Catawba Creek, Crowders Mountain, Gaston, and Cramer Mountain offer stiff tests on the golf course. Equestrian life is one of the largest per capita in the state connecting horse and rider to the land and one another. Parks of all shapes, sizes, and terrains dot the landscape and expand throughout the county calling residents outside. Runners answer the call regularly along with cyclists on road bikes and mountain bikes launching from the new Pump Station in Poston Park in Lowell. Baseball diamonds and soccer fields offer environments for invaluable life lessons.

The lakes and rivers entice water lovers to paddle boards, boats, and canoes at the world class Warlick YMCA, at drop in zones on the South Fork and Catawba Rivers, and finding their zenith of experience at the National Whitewater Center with zip lines, canopy trails, and the rushing rapids.

Several years ago, I decided to take a Tour De Gaston on my bike around the perimeter of the county. I saw lush, cultivated fields developed by hard scrabble farmers. I heard birds call out a song that they seemed to be singing to me. I enjoyed the changes in terrain. Gaston is glorious!

I have been incredibly privileged to have worked with Michael Applegate, who directs Travel & Tourism in Gaston County, to produce a brief video of my most recent Tour De Gaston. On Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 12:15, my church will be hosting the Belmont Rotary Club not only to unveil this video publicly, but also to hear Michael Applegate share how the GO Campaign has been successful in attracting more visitors to our county. For more information and RSVP details, please visit the Gaston Outside GO Month webpage at https://gastonoutside.com/go-month.

Imported here by love from the Queen City, I fell in love with Gaston. If Mecklenburg is the supposed crown, Gaston is the crown jewel that draws recreational attention like none other. Hey Gaston. Go Outside!

 

Ray Hardee is pastor at The Pointe Church and serves as the co-champion of GO Month’s Culture & Recreation Week.