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.