American Tobacco Trail

22-plus-mile trail is a bridge and a mile of asphalt from completion. The first section of the ATT — a 3.2-mile ribbon of 10-foot-wide asphalt — opened with considerable fanfare on June 3, 2000. Nearly 10 years later, the trail is almost complete, the only portion remaining a pedestrian bridge spanning I-40 and a mile and a half of connecting greenway. Currently, you can travel 6.8 miles on paved surface from downtown Durham south to NC 54. Jump I-40 and the Rails-to-Trail project resumes south of Massey Chapel Road, running 13.8 miles south to the southern trailhead in western Wake County.

The paved section north of I-40 is especially popular with walkers and bike commuters, the stretch south of Massey Chapel draws recreational bikers, hikers and long distance runners and equestrians, the latter two groups attracted by the footand- hoof-friendly crushed gravel surface. (From New Hope Church Road north to just shy of Scott King Road, the trail also includes a parallel paved section.)

American Tobacco Trail Section 1

Distance: 6.0 miles
Surface: Compacted screened gravel
Suitable for: Hiking, running, biking (mountain bike or hybrid preferably), equestrians, strollers with larger tires.
Terrain: Flat, passes through N.C. Wildlife Commission game land. Maturing loblolly and hardwood forest; Raised rail bed makes for improved wildlife viewing. Bridged crossings of Beaver Creek and White Oak Creek make for especially good wildlife viewing.
Heads up: Occasional golf ball strays onto path from driving range just south of U.S. 64 overpass.
More info: Wake County, 919.387.2117.

American Tobacco Trail Section 2

Distance: 7.8 miles
Surface: 1.7 miles from Green Level Church Road to New Hope Church Road is 16-foot-wide compacted screened gravel; 3.6 miles from New Hope Church Road north to a half mile short of Scott King Road is 10-foot asphalt with 6-foot strip of compacted screened gravel; 2.5 miles from end of pavement north to Massey Chapel Road is natural surface.
Suitable for: Hiking, running, biking (mountain bike or hybrid preferably), equestrians, strollers with larger tires. Note: 2.5-mile Durham County stretch, from a half mile south of Scott King Road north to Massey Chapel gets squirrelly in wet weather. Terrain: Flat, passes through N.C. Wildlife Commission game land. Loblolly and hardwood forest; Perhaps the most scenic and isolated stretch of ATT.
More info: Triangle Rails-to-Trails,


American Tobacco Trail Section 3

Distance: 6.8 miles
Surface: 10-foot-wide asphalt
Suitable for: Running, walking, biking, rollerblading.
Terrain: Flat and mostly urban, though a stretch about a mile and a half south of the northern trailhead surprises with its passage through a mature forest.
Heads up: There are 14 street crossings on this 6.8-mile stretch. Some are small neighborhood streets. Others, such as Fayetteville Street — which the trail crosses twice — and Martin Luther King Boulevard, are major thoroughfares. Fayetteville and MLK both have pedestrian crosswalks; use them.
More info: Triangle Rails-to- Trails,; City of Durham,


American Tobacco Trail NS

Eventually, the the 6.7-mile stretch of the American Tobacco Trail that runs from downtown Durham to N.C. 54 will be joined with the 13 miles south of Massey Chapel Road with a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 40. Until then, the intrepid can make the connection using side streets and a nasty stretch of NC 751. Proceed with caution along this 2.8-mile connector.


Cary Greenways

The Town of Cary currently has 42 miles of paved greenway, with eventual plans to create an interconnected network with Bond Park serving as the hub.

Already making that Bond Park connection: the nearly complete 7-mile Black Creek Greenway, which links Bond Park with Lake Crabtree (and trail in Umstead State Park and Raleigh) to the northeast, and the White Oak Creek Greenway, which heads west toward the American Tobacco Trail. Eventually, the Crabtree Creek Greenway will extend north to Morrisville, and the Oxford Hunt and Bishops Gate Greenways will extend from the park south.

The greenway system’s attraction for cyclists is enhanced through connections with Cary’s extensive bike network. Check out a map of Cary’s bike and greenway system here.

Black Creek Greenway

White Oak Creek Greenway

Cary | Black Creek Greenway

7.1 miles

In the 1990s,  the 2 1/2-mile Black Creek Greenway — running from Lake Crabtree south to West Dynasty Drive — was the crown jewel of Triangle greenways. Today, the still-popular greenway has expanded to nearly its entire, planned 7-plus-mile length. A crucial 1.4-mile connection in June 2011 from Chapel Hill Road at NW Maynard Street to SW Maynard near High House Road means there’s only about a half mile of uncompleted trail, and that stretch is easily circumvented with sidewalks and neighborhood streets.

To take the trip today, park along Old Reedy Creek Road above Lake Crabtree and head south across the dam. The trail soon drops to follow its namesake creek through a wooded passage for two miles to West Dynasty. Go right along the road — sidewalk or bike lane, your choice— for 0.3 miles, then cross the road where the greenway resumes. After a mile, the trail crosses a busy, divided four-lane NW Maynard Road. This is a dangerous crossing: Proceed with care.

Black Creek Greenway (cont’d)

Spend some time at Godbold Park (tennis, anyone?), also home to a dog park and Cary’s SK8 Park. The trail parallels NW Maynard for a half mile, ducks into a neighborhood for nearly a mile, then pops out onto NW Maynard Road. Go left on the extra-wide sidewalk for 0.2 miles. Eventually, more extra-wide sidewalk will take you another 0.2 miles to High House Road, which you will cross to the southwest to pick up the yet-to-be completed stretch of Black Creek Greenway. Until then: Stay on the sidewalk to High House, cross. Cross again, over what is now SW Maynard Road and continue a little over a third of a mile to Wood Hollow Drive. Go left on Wood Hollow for 0.2 miles, go left on Castalia Drive for another 0.2 miles and pick up the existing greenway, on your right. The remaining 0.7 miles takes you into Bond Park, past the boathouse (snacks!) and to a nifty roundabout kiosk where the Black Creek Greenway cedes to the White Oak Creek Greenway.

Bond Park’s various amenities makes it a great destination for a greenway trek.

Cary | Black Creek Greenway / Related posts


Raleigh’s greenway system currently includes 69 miles of trail and should exceed 110 miles in the next two to three years.

Currently, there are three main corridors: the 10.7-mile Crabtree Creek Trail, the 6.5-mile Walnut Creek Greenway, and a 15-mile continuous stretch consisting of the Rocky Branch and Reedy Creek greenways, and the Old Reedy Creek Bike & Bridle Trail through Umstead State Park (which connects at the northwest end with Cary’s 7.1-mile Black Creek Greenway.

Current construction includes the 2.9-mile House Creek Greenway, which will link the Crabtree Creek and Rocky Branch/Reedy Creek/Umstead trail, a four-mile extension of the Crabtree Creek trail that will take it to the Neuse River, and the 28-mile Neuse River Trail. The first eight miles of the Neuse greenway is expected to open in September 2011, the entire 28 miles in spring of 2013.

Raleigh | Crabtree Creek Trail

10.7 miles

Crabtree Creek Trail currently runs nearly 11 miles, from Milburnie Road near New Bern Avenue and the Beltline, northwest along its namesake creek to Lindsay Drive. Within two years, the Milburnie end of the trail is expected to continue downstream to the Neuse River, where a 28-mile-long greenway is being built from the Falls Lake dam downstream to to the Johnston County line. On the northwest end, the trail is eventually envisioned to follow Crabtree Creek into Umstead State Park, where connections to Raleigh’s Reedy Creek Greenway and Cary’s Black Creek Greenway will be possible. That project has been tied up in a legal battle between a quarry upstream from Duraleigh Road and local neighborhoods. Its future remains unclear.

For now, Crabtree Creek Trail enjoys wild stretches east of Capital Boulevard (including a boardwalk passage through wetlands), winds through Raleigh’s established inside-the-Beltline neighborhoods, offers a diversion to Shelley Lake (where you can rent a boat in warm weather), takes in a mall (Crabtree Valley) and winds up on the northeast end in relatively wild terrain.

Greenway milestones

Greenway milestones (2)

Raleigh | Umstead S.P./Reedy Creek/Rocky Branch Greenway

14.4 miles

If you’re looking for a day-long urban greenway escape, it’s hard to beat the this path that spends five miles in the forest (Umstead State Park), goes past one of the country’s most modern art museums (the recently expanded North Carolina Museum of Art), goes through the scenic campus of a women’s college (Meredith College), penetrates the heart of N.C. State University (including newly renovated athletic facilities), then passes Central Prison and the campus of the state mental hospital (Dorthea Dix), which is in the process of, hopefully, becoming an inner-city park.

There’s plenty to keep your attention on this trail, which is actually three trails linked: Umstead State Park’s Bike & Bridle Trail and Raleigh’s Reedy Creek and Rocky Branch Greenways. And if that weren’t enough, on the Umstead end, at Lake Crabtree, the trail connects with Cary’s Black Creek Greenway (all but a

Raleigh | Umstead/Reedy Creek/Rocky Branch (cont’d)

mile or so of which is done on its run to Bond Park), which in turn connects with the White Oak Greenway, which eventually will connect with the American Tobacco Trail. Meanwhile, the Rocky Branch end makes a connection with the Walnut Creek Greenway, which runs 6.5 miles across the south part of town. That trail, eventually will link Lake Johnson in west Raleigh with the Neuse River Greenway.

Greenway milestones

Greenway milestones (2)

Greenway milestones (3)

Raleigh | Neuse River Greenway

28 miles

When it opens — 2013 is the promised completion date — the Neuse River Greenway will be the longest continuous greenway in the Triangle, running from the base of Falls Lake dam south along its namesake river to the Johnston County line. (And it won’t stop there, thanks to a 5-mile stretch of greenway under construction that will take the greenway, part of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail, into Clayton.)

The Neuse greenway is to open in stages, with the first stage scheduled to open this fall. That segment will run 8 miles, from the Falls Lake dam downstream to the WRAL soccer complex off Perry Creek Road. (Check the accompanying slideshow for a sneak peak.)

See Related Posts at the end of this section for more on the Neuse River Greenway.

Raleigh | Neuse River Greenway

Raleigh | Walnut Creek Greenway

7.0 miles

In the the east/west scheme of Raleigh’s greenway ladder, the Walnut Creek Greenway occupies the southern rung. At present, 7 miles of the greenway is complete, from Worthdale Park west to  Lake Wheeler Road and N.C. State’s Centennial Campus. On the west end, greenway is being constructed through Centennial Campus that will link with 6.7 miles of existing Raleigh greenway to and around Lake Johnson. On the east end, the Walnut Creek Greenway will extend another 4.5 miles to connect with the under-construction, 28-mile Neuse River Greenway.

2.9 miles of that later stretch is funded and construction should be complete by summer 2012, says Raleigh Senior Greenway Planner Vic Lebsock. When it’s all done, you’ll be able to take greenway about 19 miles across the city’s south side, from the Neuse River to past Lake Johnson.

Raleigh | Walnut Creek Greenway / Map

Walnut Creek Greenway / Map

I’ll be making a map of the Walnut Creek Greenway in July. Until then, I’m borrowing the map available online and as part of Raleigh Parks & Rec’s brochure on the city’s greenway system. Here’s a quick key to the map, which appears in the following three frames heading east to west.

Greenway stretches (red numbers)

23 — Lake Johnson Greenway
28 — Lower Walnut Creek Trail
30 — Middle Walnut Creek Trail
31 — Neuse River Trail
38 — Upper Walnut Creek Trail
40 — Walnut Creek Park Trail

Parks (green)

L-24 — Lake Johnson
P-24 — Eliza Pool
S-23 — Apollo Heights
U-23 — Worthdale
V-24 — Walnut Creek North
V-25 — Walnut Creek South

Walnut Creek Greenway / Map

Raleigh | Walnut Creek Greenway / Map

Apex Greenways

Apex has 3.5 miles of paved greenway, the bulk of which is the Beaver Creek Greenway, the spine of the Apex system. Beaver Creek currently runs from Jaycee Park near downtown 2 .2 miles west to Kelly Road Park (save for a hiccup near Kelly Road caused by  Triangle Expressway construction). The plan is to eventually link downtown with the American Tobacco Trail, the 22-mile spine of the Triangle’s greenway network, a distance of five miles.

Nearly a mile of trail now runs along North Beaver Creek. That trail will eventually connect new developments (Sutton Place, Charleston Village and Beckett Crossing among them) with the Beaver Creek Greenway.

Apex is also the site of a much-anticipated stretch of greenway that would link Cary’s nearly complete White Oak Creek Greenway with the American Tobacco Trail. Though only a little over a mile long, there are no plans at present to build this link, which would not only link to Cary's Bond Park, but also to Lake Crabtree, Umstead State Park and the Raleigh greenway system.

For more information, visit Apex Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources.