Voting ends today in Round 2 of Outside Magazine / Toad&Co’s #BestTown2015 search to find the best town in the country. If you’ve yet to vote, if you’re the type who needs incontrovertible evidence, consider what Raleigh-Durham (Outside’s nomenclature) brings to the adventure party:
- 210 miles of Hiking Trail. That includes a range of experiences, from short escapes in your neighborhood — at Durant Park in Raleigh, at West Point on the Eno in Durham, Hemlock Bluffs in Cary — to day-long treks at Umstead State Park, with 33 miles of trail, and Eno River State Park, with 28 miles of trail.
- 281 miles of greenway. Not 20 years ago, the Triangle was dotted with mile-long stretches of random, paved, greenway, great for families who lived nearby, but that was about it. A building boom spearheaded by Raleigh (with help from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) and Cary has brought to near fruition the Circle the Triangle concept conceived in the 1990s. Today, with two short hiccups, it’s possible to take greenway from Clayton in Johnston County, through Raleigh, into Umstead State Park, across to Cary, through Chatham County and into downtown Durham. Within the last five years the Triangle’s greenway system has blossomed into a secondary transportation network for non-motorized vehicles.
- 105 miles of mountain bike trail. In 1992, the first mountain bike trail opened in the region, at Lake Crabtree County Park. Today, thanks largely to the efforts of volunteers, there are 113 miles of singletrack trail at nine venues. And that’s just the legal trail!
- Whitewater kayaking. After a good rain, local kayakers flock to the lower Haw River for Class III action on Gabriel’s Bend, Harold’s Tombstone, Moose Jaw Falls and more. Meanwhile, in Raleigh local paddlers have organized to turn the output from Falls Lake Dam into a whitewater park. The Falls Whitewater Park Committee already has $350,000 committed to the project.
- Backpacking. Eno River State Park has three primitive campsites along its 28 miles of trail, while two new backcountry sites have been built along the 60-mile Falls Lake stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, bringing the FLMST’s primitive camping options to four. Jordan Lake and Falls Lake also have primitive camping sites.
- Mountains-to-Sea Trail. So complacent about great local hiking options have we become that we nearly let mention of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail pass as an afterthought. What an omission that would have been: at present, 107 miles of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail runs through the Triangle, making it possible to walk from Clayton in Johnston County to nearly Hillsborough in Orange County. (About 620 miles of the overall MST are complete; eventually, it will run about 1,000 miles, from Clingman’s Dome atop the Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge at the coast.)
- Flatwater paddling. Great paddling options abound on the fingers of Jordan and Falls lakes, and at at least 14 municipal lakes, whose primary purpose is flood control but also rent canoes and kayaks — for as little as $5 an hour. Got a hankerin’ to watch the sun set over the water? It’s yours for a five spot. Dependable year-round paddling options as well on local rivers including the Neuse, Deep and Cape Fear, and on stretches of the Haw and Eno.
- Climbing. The Triangle has two state-of-the-art climbing gyms in the Triangle Rock Club’s North Raleigh and Morrisville gyms, the latter with a 54-foot wall, the highest between Atlanta and the D.C. area.
Not to mention:
Scuba diving. Yes, scuba diving. In Rolesville, at Fantasy Lake, an abandoned rock quarry turned underwater playground, where on summer weekends you’ll find hundreds of local divers negotiating an abandoned rock crusher, VW, CAT bus and assorted other challenges of the not-so-deep (40 to 60 feet, on average).
Then cast your ballot here.
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