Neuse greenway is oh-so-close

Depending upon how adventurous you are, the first 8-mile installment of the Neuse River Greenway is open.

Based on a scouting expedition yesterday, roughly 7.9 miles of the Raleigh greenway, which eventually will run the length of the Neuse in Wake County, are finished. That tenth of a mile that’s not technically opened is over two short stretches. The first comes 2.6 miles from the northern trailhead at Falls of Neuse Road just below Falls Dam. There, a boardwalk is under construction: the footings and supports are in, the decking being screwed down. Although the area beneath appeared wet, tracks to the side of the structure suggested it had been bypassed by cyclists and travelers afoot.

An eighth of a mile farther south, a stretch under Capital Boulevard was also under construction. Heavy equipment, which was busy at work, made passage impossible.

A 50-yard stretch of the greenway under the new Falls of Neuse Road bridge is yet to be finished as well, pending completion of the above bridge, but is passible.

Thus, if you want a sneak peek of the new greenway this weekend without having to dodge construction, your best bets are the 2.6-mile stretch from the northern trailhead south and the 3.1-mile stretch north from the southern trailhead at the WRAL/CASL soccer complex off Perry Creek Road between Capital Boulevard and U.S. 401.

The southern end of the trail is especially unique for Triangle greenway, with isolated stretches through mature bottomland hardwoods. A nice treat comes midway on that stretch at an area marked as “River Access.” A short spur leads to a bench overlooking a bend in the river; below is a small, partially shaded sand beach dissolving into an especially clear stretch of the Neuse.

Overall, this down payment on the Neuse River Greenway promises the best long-distance romp on paved greenway in the Triangle. The trail is well marked: at the various neighborhood spurs, as well as the intersection with Abbotts Creek Trail, “street” signs make it clear which way to go. It’s got nice flow: It avoids the constant and often gratuitous swerves that are a trademark of older greenways in favor of trail that better works with the landscape. And it goes on and on and on: you’ll never have to deal with traffic.

Eventually, the Neuse River Greenway will go 28 miles, from Falls Dam to the Johnston County line. (And when it reaches Johnston County, it will meet five more miles of downstream greenway now under construction.) The entire trail is expected to be finished in 2013.

Easiest access at this point: The expanded and paved canoe access below Falls dam off Falls of Neuse Road (beware: the turn-in, just downstream of the old Falls of Neuse bridge, isn’t marked yet and traffic can be heavy), and at the WRAL/CASL soccer complex off Perry Creek Road between Capital Boulevard and U.S. 401 (trailhead is off the gravel lot near the fields closest to the river). Use the accompanying map for reference.

Come back to Monday when we’ll take you on a 90 Second Escape video tour down the southern section of the new greenway.

View Upper Neuse River Greenway (Phase I) in a larger map

10 thoughts on “Neuse greenway is oh-so-close”

  1. Yes! I was out there checking things out from the WRAL side on Wednesday. It’s a remarkable trail. I’ve heard great stories from people up in the Falls River / Bedford area that are taking up recreational cycling for the first time due to the easy access to that greenway.

    But as you point out, there’s still a lot of active work going on there. I passed 2-3 backhoes on the 3 mi section north of the WRAL fields. So the weekend is indeed the safest bet to check the trail out.

    1. I was surprised, especially on the WRAL end, that the trail wasn’t closed. It looked like they were wrapping up a few odds and ends, so maybe it was their last active day on that stretch (save for the construction near and under Capital Boulevard).

      That’s great to hear about people in Falls River taking up cycling. After spending last week exploring the bike paths in Denver (story to come soon), I’m convinced that if you build the trail, people will flock to it. Even yesterday, mid-morning, I’ll bet I saw more than 100 people on the trail. Imagine what 28 miles (+5 in Johnston County) will do to get people out.

  2. I too snuck through recently. Super nice! This is a great use of stimulus money. I see additional economic opportunity & activity to follow soon: shuttle services, rentals, hostels, food spots, etc. illiorme removal

    1. I agree. I think Paddle Creek should have stuck with its Falls of Neuse location longer. That place will be a gold mine for anyone wishing to rent bikes/boats, guide trips, sell sandwiches, foist high-price coffee drinks on the public. Wish I knew something (anything) about retail.

    1. Enter the complex at the one-way entrance (OK, it should go without saying, still … ). The road turns left, then Ts. If you go left, you’ll exit the soccer fields; go right. Park in the last dirt lot. Below the lot you’ll see a paved path between two stone walls — that’s the trailhead. It’s well-hidden. Hope that helps.

      1. Walked 2 miles north in from the soccer fields yesterday. Cyclists should watch out for some core sample holes that have not been filled in yet. Saw 6 deer on our 2 mile north bound walk. We were there about 7am to 8am and only saw one other person and he was on a bike headed north. No construction activity at all that we saw. We were on the north end 9/10 and the trail under the new Neuse River bridge had signs up stating that the “sidewalk” was closed. It was a mud hole under there. The” foot” bridge at 2.5 + miles in headed south was still under construction.

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