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