Five-Star Trails Raleigh and Durham  by Joshua Kinser

Five-Star Trails: Raleigh & Durham Guide Book

by Joshua Kinser (Menasha Ridge Press)
Five-Star Trails Raleigh and Durham  by Joshua Kinser
Surrounding Raleigh and Durham is a patchwork of national, state, and local parks, which are home to a network of trails that wind through hilly woodlands and around lakes and meandering rivers. Don’t miss the hidden hiking treasures of Raleigh and Durham! With the expert guidance of author Joshua Kinser, you’ll enjoy 31 of the region’s best trails. Kinser details urban strolls through Raleigh and Durham, an educational forest trail that’s great for families, and longer adventures near lakes, creeks, and mountains—providing a broad spectrum of the varied landscape of central North Carolina and its plentiful wildlife. Kinser’s vivid hike descriptions give insight to the history, fl ora, and fauna of the routes, and his concise, accurate trail directions and mileages will keep explorers on the right path.

© 2013 Joshua Kinser/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Five-Star Trails: Raleigh & Durham" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 31.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 31.

This loop, combining three popular trails in Blue Jay Point County Park, starts from the visitor center and garden area. From here you cross the park’s main road and follow an unpaved footpath through the playing field. You then join the Blue Jay Point Trail on a pleasant walk that traverses small hills and leads to Blue Jay Point, with scenic views of the surrounding Falls Lake. From here the trail backtracks to the Falls Lake Trail and follows along the shore of Falls Lake, passing a short spur trail that leads to Beaver Point, another scenic overlook of the lake. The route then circles back to the northwest on the Beaver Point Trail, which intersects the Azalea Loop Trail before returning to the visitor center and garden area, where you started.
Raleigh, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
Chapel Hill is nicknamed the Southern Part of Heaven, and after taking a short stroll through the charming streets and brick-paved paths of the university campus, you’ll find it easy to understand why. This route explores the leafy streets winding through downtown along the Franklin Street business district. Along the way you will pass historic wooded homesites, weathered stone walls, and the small shops that surround the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The route follows South Columbia Street, passes the charming Carolina Inn, and turns east on Manning Drive, entering the university campus. The route through campus takes you past the main stadium and to the picturesque Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower, constructed of red brick. From here you pass the campus and walk through the main green of the campus, Polk Place, to the town’s old well along East Cameron Avenue, before returning to Franklin Street and back to the visitor center.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.9
Clemmons Educational State Forest lies 16 miles southeast of Raleigh, between the Piedmont and the coastal plain. The Clemmons’s pine stands and hardwoods are set on a rolling terrain that is highlighted by streams and rock formations. This was the first designated North Carolina educational state forest, and throughout it you encounter interactive interpretive stations that describe the forest’s ecology, geology, history, and management techniques through fun anecdotal recordings and displays. While the displays are geared toward children, they are still very enjoyable and interesting for adults.
Raleigh, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.7
Downtown Durham is divided into several districts. This route starts at the Durham Visitor Info Center, at 101 E. Morgan St., and ventures through downtown and the main business district of the city. You pass through what is known as Black Wall Street, where African Americans established their own financial hub. From here the trail explores the Central Park District, Warehouse District, and American Tobacco District, where tobacco warehouses once occupied the majority of businesses in this area. Follow the route past the Durham Performing Arts Center to the famous Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The path returns on a mostly different route to explore more of the shopping and restaurant districts downtown before returning to the Durham Visitor Info Center.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
Explore the grounds of the Duke University campus on this mostly gravel cross-country trail that winds through the forest surrounding the Washington Duke Inn and golf course. Adjacent to the Duke Forest, this cross-country trail is a perfect choice for runners and walkers. The route follows the Al Buehler Cross Country Trail main loop and starts from the main parking lot, just off Cameron Boulevard near the junction with University Boulevard. The trail is extremely popular, and the parking lot fills easily. Another lot is farther down Cameron Boulevard to the west, just past the business school. Venture through the forest and across winding streams before heading south as the path follows alongside the US 15-501 Bypass. Throughout the trail you will get glimpses of long expanses of the golf course; you may even have the opportunity to judge golfers’ swings as you walk along the trail circling the impressive course.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8
Th is trail leads to the Bobbitt Hole, one of the most scenic areas along the Eno River. At Bobbitt Hole a rock outcrop towers over the river on the south bank, where a small cascade drops into an 18-feet-deep hole before the river turns sharply to the east. Th e Bobbitt Hole Trail starts in the parking lot of the Cole Mill area in the eastern side of the park. From here the trail leads to the Bobbitt Hole and the Eno River, traversing through the forest and over several hills and drainages.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
Eno River State Park creates a 3,900-acre protective forest corridor that surrounds the winding banks of the Eno River. Th e Eno fl ows from northwest Orange County into Durham County for 33 miles, where it joins the Flat River to become the Neuse and fl ows into Falls Lake. Th e state park is 12 miles northwest of the city of Durham and just minutes from Chapel Hill and Hillsborough, making it an exceptionally popular destination for outdoor recreation in the warmer months of spring, summer, and fall.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.2
Th is route explores the B. W. Wells Recreation Area, combining the Long Loop Trail and the Short Loop Trail. Th e path begins from the trailhead in the fi rst parking lot on the west side of Benthill Court. Th e trail ventures along the shore of Falls Lake, briefl y off ering incredible views of the lake as you walk. After leaving the lakeshore, the trail loops through the forest before returning to the trailhead. Along the route you pass several group campsites. Th is is a sparsely used portion of the Falls Lake Recreation Area. If you’re searching for some solitude, then you’ve come to the right place. For this reason, the hike is one of my favorites.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.9
This trail follows along the southeast shore of Falls Lake and explores the hardwood forest and pine stands that surround the lake. The trail starts at the Falls Lake Visitor Assistance Center, which contains the dam and emergency spillway. From here the trail follows the shore of the lake along an elevated boardwalk that offers views of the surrounding water. The route then follows an unpaved path through a pine-and-hardwood forest along the lake. The path loops around to join a paved walking trail and returns to the Falls Lake Visitor Assistance Center, which offers exhibits on fish and wildlife conservation, water quality, and the construction and operation of the dam.
Raleigh, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.9
This walk takes you into downtown Raleigh and explores some of the best attractions in the area. The walk starts at the Raleigh Visitor Information Center, at the Raleigh Marriott City Center hotel on Fayetteville Street, and walks up Fayetteville Street through the heart of the business district. From here the trail leads past the State Capitol building and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. A short detour leads through the City Market and explores the cafés and shops of the pedestrian-only area of the city before you return to the Marriott at Raleigh’s city center.
Raleigh, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
Fred G. Bond Metro Park is in east Cary, 12 miles west of Raleigh. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Raleigh to the park. Fred G. Bond Metro Park is the one-stop shop for outdoor recreation in Cary. The 310-acre park has more than 4 miles of hiking trails that are focused around Bond Lake. All of the trails in the park share a centralized trailhead near the north end of Bond Lake. The Black Creek Greenway, Oxford Hunt Greenway, and White Oak Greenway all intersect at Fred G. Bond Metro Park. The park has eight sports fields, a large general activity field, a senior center, a community center with basketball courts, and an outdoor amphitheater. You can even rent a boat to take out on the lake from the boathouse located on the northeast side of Bond Lake.
Raleigh, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.1
Th is hike combines two trails in Fred G. Bond Metro Park, the Paw Paw Trail and the Pine Cone Trail, to form a 1.9-mile loop. Th e trail starts in the Kiwanis shelter parking lot and follows along the shore of Bond Lake before entering into a pine-and-oak forest that surrounds the lake. Along the trail you pass the community center with restrooms, basketball courts, and a fi tness center. You also will pass by four of the seven sports fi elds in the park. Th is loop trail is slightly more challenging than the Lake Trail. It traverses some small hills that are mostly concentrated toward the end of the hike. Th is enjoyable hike exposes you to most of the park.
Raleigh, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.9
This 680-acre park is 23 miles southwest of Raleigh and 32 miles south of Durham.
Raleigh, NC - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.5
This is a very enjoyable walk through the ridges and ravines of Cary’s upland forest.
Raleigh, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4
Historic Oak View County Park is 5 miles east of downtown Raleigh, and it is definitely worth the trip. The incredibly preserved 27-acre farmstead can be explored along more than a mile of paths. This trail starts at the Farm History Center, a museum with exhibits for adults and children that tell the story of farming in North Carolina. From the Farm History Center you follow an easy and level path that is mostly paved with cobblestone and brick. You pass a historic barn, the main farmhouse, and the water tower and head to the oldest building on the property, a plank kitchen with an herb garden growing outside. From the garden you pass a cemetery, where many of the farm owners through the years were laid to rest, and continue to the cotton museum, with a fine example of a cotton field growing out front. From here the trail circles around and returns to the trailhead in front of the Farm History Center.
Raleigh, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.3
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Oakwood is one of the finest examples of late-1800s development in downtown Raleigh. This downtown walk explores the core of the classic neighborhood. The walk starts at the governor’s mansion and follows a short route that winds through the center of the neighborhood, passing many of the key historic homes in the neighborhood as well as the Oakwood Inn Bed and Breakfast, Oakwood Cemetery, and houses developed by Colonel Jonathan Heck. This charming walk through Oakwood can only be made better by adding a tour of the governor’s mansion to the schedule. Or visit the neighborhood in December, when the residents and the Society for the Preservation of Historic Oakwood hold their annual candlelight tour, and the interiors of the Oakwood homes are open to the public.
Raleigh, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
The 174-acre Historic Yates Mill County Park is 6 miles south of downtown Raleigh, and it features the masterfully restored waterpowered 18th-century Yates Mill. The park has more than 2 miles of hiking trails, which circle around a 20-acre pond fed by Steep Hill Creek and its tributaries. The trails explore the park’s surrounding wetlands and forests. This route starts at the park’s main facility, the A. E. Finley Center for Education, and follows the Millpond Trail across an impressive wooden boardwalk spanning the pond, with viewing scopes and benches that offers impressive views of the water. The trail then continues north and merges with the Creekside Trail for a 1-mile hike through the park’s wetlands and forests, but don’t worry—boardwalks keep your feet dry when you pass through the wetland areas. At the end of the Creekside Trail you turn around, backtrack on the Creekside Trail, and then follow the High Ridge Trail, which traverses the ridges above the pond, passing through mixed old field pine and hardwood forests. The High Ridge Trail rejoins with the Millpond Trail, which follows the pond shore, passing an observation deck of the water-powered mill at the end of the hike. You then return to the A. E. Finley Center for Education, where you will find much-welcomed rocking chairs on the porch to relax and enjoy views of the serene pond and the surrounding landscape.
Raleigh, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.3
Th e 14,000-acre park has more than 22 miles of hiking trails, and the New Hope Overlook area is on the southwest side of the park near Moncure, North Carolina. Th e New Hope Overlook area has two trails, the Red Trail and the Blue Trail. Th is hike follows the Blue Trail, which off ers excellent views of Jordan Lake. Th e route traverses a mature hardwood forest and crosses several tributary creeks, climbing over a couple of hills in the beginning of the trail and climaxing with a challenging climb of an exceptionally steep hill at the very end of the trail.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
There are two trails in the Ebenezer Church Recreation Area, the Ebenezer Church Trail and the Old Oak Trail. This route follows the Old Oak Trail, an easy 1-mile loop that begins at the Ebenezer Picnic Area A and passes two ponds as well as historic farm sites. The shortcut trail reduces the length of the trail to 0.5 mile, making this route exceptional for young children. The nearby Ebenezer Church Trail, also an easy 1-mile loop, explores the site of the historic Ebenezer Church and passes by a large pond. The Ebenezer Church Recreation Area has designated beaches and several picnic pavilions, so it is easy to spend a full day in the area.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
The Seaforth Recreation Area is centrally located in Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, right off US 64 west of Wilsonville. The Pond Trail is nearly a complete loop. It begins on the western side of the Seaforth parking lot and traverses a mixed pine-and-hardwood forest. Boardwalks along the way keep your hiking shoes from trudging through the wetland portions of the trail, where you will find buttonbush, black needlerush, and other wetland plants. Along the way, the path offers enjoyable views of Jordan Lake and passes by three small ponds. The trail circles back around to the parking lot and ends at picnic pavilion nine, a large, covered shelter on the edge of Jordan Lake to the north of the designated swimming beach. Bring your swimsuit and enjoy a day at Seaforth after hiking the Pond Trail.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4