Destination greenways: A sneak preview

For a while now, I’ve been mentioning that will be growing, with an expanded presence focusing on North Carolina’s greenways. Specifically, our plan is to look at the state’s so-called “destination greenways.” “So-called” and the term itself in quotes because its definition is rather squishy.

A destination greenway is one that people will put their bikes on the roof rack and drive to, in the hopes of spending at least half a day exploring. Attaching a mileage to that is where the squishiness comes in. If you have small kids, then 10 miles of continuous path may suffice. In general, though, Roger Bardsley with Guilford County Parks & Open Space, says, “Once you get into the 15- to 20-mile range, then you can advertise yourself as a regional greenway destination.”

But, as Bardsley is quick to add, the designation can also depend on how much there is to see and do along the route in question. For our purposes here at, we’ll go down to 10 miles — again, depending upon circumstances.

Our greenway site will, hopefully, include everything you’d want to know about taking a trip, primarily in the form of maps that will show a variety of information: trailheads, parking, water, food, restrooms, spots where the trail may be difficult to follow (at road crossings, for instance), and sites to see along the way. In addition to a map, each greenway will include a slide show and video to help give a better sense of what your experience may be like on the greenway.

We hope to have this new-and-improved site up next month. In the meantime, check out the interactive map below of a 14.4-mile stretch of greenway that includes the Rocky Branch and Reedy Creek Trail greenways in Raleigh, and the adjoining 5-mile bike and bridle trail though Umstead State Park. (Note: The majority of trails in this collection will be paved. However, there are some excellent hard-packed screened gravel surfaces, such as the 5 miles through Umstead, that also will be included.)

Check out the map, a Google map that can be downloaded to your smartphone for handy access. Let us know what works for you, what doesn’t and what would be helpful that we haven’t included. If you’d like to know more or just want to talk greenways, I’ll be discussing destination greeways Saturday, April 9, at 2:30 p.m. at the Cameron Village branch of the Wake County Public Library.

Let us know what you think.

View Umstead/Reedy Creek/Rocky Branch in a larger map