Explore Your ‘Hood: Kings Highway Park

It’s the journey, not the destination, Ralph Waldo Emerson is often quoted as saying. That’s especially true when you Explore Your Neighborhood.

Typically on outdoor outings the journey to reach the trailhead isn’t so special: an interstate highway, a self-serve gas station, fast food. You’ve seen one burrito supreme, you’ve seen ‘em all. 

But with a neighborhood adventure, you can pass a warehouse, walk through an old mill village, hike down railroad tracks, travel an old dirt road that dates back hundreds of years to a time before English was spoken in these parts. I know, because that’s that’s what I did this morning on my way from home to Kings Highway Park, a nature preserve on the west edge of town that’s about as small as they come. But even though it has just 18 acres and only a mile of trail, it offers escape disproportionate to its stats. 

For starters, that ancient highway I took to get there? It turns into part of the trail network; for hundreds of years The Old Trading Path served as the main route from what is now Washington, D.C., to what is now Atlanta, Ga. There’s a stretch of trail that’s a stone’s throw from both the rail line and a frequently traveled country two-lane that’s insulated from both by a thick Piedmont forest. And there’s the Lake Trail, which actually follows the Eno River; the trail gets its name from the fact the river is dammed just downstream, creating a half-mile or so stretch of still water. 

Hiking to Kings Highway Park and back took me about twice as long as the hike itself. The journey was a modern-day Huck Finn challenge, the destination a worthy reward. It’s the type of adventure I think Ralph Waldo Emerson had in mind.

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Kings Highway Park

Hillsborough, N.C.

Address: 1001 Ben Johnston Road, Hillsborough

Trail: 1 mile

Size: 18 acres

Hours: dawn to dusk, daily. 

Facilities: None. 

Learn more about Kings Highway Park here.

Explore Your Neighborhood

“Explore Your Neighborhood”

Explore Your Neighborhood”

For more on exploring your neighborhood during these shelter-in-place times, check out our new “Explore Your Neighborhood: A Guide to Discovering the World Immediately Around You,” available in both ebook and paperback. Includes guidance on everything from how to scout your neighborhood for hidden gems to how to execute your neighborhood treks.

And don’t forget to join us weekday mornings at 7:30 for Morning Walk with Joe, about 10 minutes of Joe’s half-hour morning ramble. You’ll find it on our GetGoingNC Facebook page.

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