Ready to spend some time outdoors during your stay in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill region? You're bound to have fun at any of these hiking spots around the Triangle—perfect for all ages.
American Tobacco Trail
Enjoy 20 miles of trails converted from railroad paths in parts of Wake, Durham and Chatham counties on the American Tobacco Trail, which offers portions of paved and softer surfaces that you can hike or bike all day. Trails currently run through the City of Durham, the towns of Cary and Apex and Jordan Lake—U.S. Army Corp of Engineers' land—in addition to other areas of Durham, Wake and Chatham counties.
Owned and managed by Duke University since 1931 for teaching and research purposes, Duke forest's mission is to facilitate research concerning forested and aquatic ecosystems and to aid in the instruction of students. Duke Forest is also an outdoor recreation destination for Triangle residents. There are many trails to choose from, but the self-guided Sheperd Nature Trail at Duke Forest in Durham is less than a mile and perfect for hikers of all ages.
Eno River State Park
Hike along and wade through parts of the Eno River at the serene Eno River State Park in Durham, which encompasses the majestic and rolling Eno River, mature forests, a historic mill, historic home sites and scenic river bluffs that cover parts of Durham and Orange counties. Kids can float leaves or toss rocks into shallow, slow sections of the river.
Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail
Hikers of all ages will get a kick—and history lesson—out of this trail in Hillsborough that once served as a speedway from NASCAR's inaugural 1949 season. Now visitors walk instead of drive the one-mile oval, which is part of a three-mile trail that navigates tall pines, blackberry thickets and mossy undergrowth surrounding the track and along the banks of the Eno River.
Morgan Creek Trail
Fit in a quick hike on this paved, woodland trail in Chapel Hill which is less than a mile and ends at Merritt's Pasture, an open space encircled by another small trail. Parking is available off of Fordham Boulevard and no bikes are allowed.
Stop by an educational nature center and discover information posts along the different trails at Cary's Hemlock Bluffs, where you can work in a quick hike or spend an entire afternoon. Enjoy up to three lush miles of mulched, family-friendly trails cloaked in Eastern Hemlock trees and other mountain plant species. Stop by the Stevens Nature Center while you're there to view interactive exhibits from North Carolina's Piedmont region.
Lake Crabtree Trails
This hiking oasis at Lake Crabtree County Park in Raleigh is a bit hilly, so keep that in mind with younger hikers. But six miles of trails ring the lake for a beautiful view, and the playground and sand volleyball courts provide additional entertainment. The remaining 10 miles of trails are popular with the Triangle’s mountain biking community. Most trails are shaded and offer gentle climbs and descents.
North Carolina Museum of Art Trail
You might be surprised to learn that a pedestrian bridge crossing Interstate 440 near Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh leads to 160-acre park adorned with artistic masterpieces and encompassing fields, woodlands and creeks. Walk or ride bikes along the the one-mile Blue Loop trail that connects the Museum Park to the Capital Area Greenway system.
Neuse River Greenway
The Neuse River Greenway offers 27.5 miles of paved trails. A segment of which is the greenway's Mountains-to-Sea Trail runs across North Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. This segment connects to other interesting places such as Buffaloe Road Aquatic Park, Anderson Point Park and the Milburnie Dam.
Umstead State Park
Although it's close to Raleigh and shopping, you'll feel like you're miles away from civilization on the many trails at William B. Umstead State Park. Twenty miles of hiking trails and 13 miles of bridle trails greet visitors to park, which expands across 5,599 acres. Some trails interconnect, so pay attention to trail markers to stay on the right path.