Guide: Triangle Greenways

March 1, 2010 

The Triangle has more than 150 miles of paved greenway, a number expected to grow to 200 within the next two to three years. Here's a quick snapshot, by municipality, of where you'll find existing greenway and an overview of what the greenways are like. You'll also find links for maps and more information.

For the latest greenway openings and other trail news, visit the Get Out! Get Fit! blog.

APEX

No. of miles completed: 5

No. of miles expected to be added in the next 2-3 years: 5 (in the next 3-4 years)
Maps & more: online
Overview: Apex's big greenway is Beaver Creek, which currently runs about three miles, from Town Side Dr. to Olive Chapel Road. Eventually, the city plans to expand this stretch east to downtown (via sidewalks for the last little bit) and west to the American Tobacco Trail. Thus, for a relatively small investment of paved path Apex will become part of a Triabnglewide greenway network. Another popular trail: the 3-mile greenway around Apex Community Park, two miles of which is paved.

In the works:
Likely to be done in May 2008 is an extension of the Beaver Creek Greenway west to Kelly Road Park. Then, it's on to the ATT.

CARRBORO

No. of miles completed: 2.
No. of miles expected to be added in the next 2-3 years: Carrboro is just launching a planning phase that will determine how much additional greenway will be build.
Maps & more:
Online

Overview: As is the case with next-door neighbor Chapel Hill, that 2 miles is deceiving. Two miles of separate paved path for pedestrians and cyclists — that interconnect with an extensive network of functional and safe on-road bike lanes and wide shoulders that make Carrboro perhaps the most non-motorized-vehicle-friendly town in the Triangle. Check the online map to see what we mean.

In the works: TBA.

CARY

No. of miles completed: 42
No. of miles expected to be added in the next 2-3 years: 15-20
No. of miles envisioned someday: 160.
Maps & more: 2008 updated map available by calling 469-4082, online available soon.

White Oak Creek Greenway

Cary's White Oak Creek Greenway

Overview: Cary's greenway system is the Traingle's fastest growing; in the next two to three years alone the 42-mile network could add another 20 miles. The two most significant stretches of greenway are Black Creek, which runs from Lake Crabtree County Park on the north to Chapel Hill Road, and the White Oak Creek, which runs from Bond Park west to McArthur Drive, then picks up again on Davis Drive and runs to Green Level Church Road. Other significant stretches include the Hinshaw and Pirates Cove greenways, between Walnut Street and Cary Parkway (which last year were connected via a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 1/64 with Kids Together Park) and assorted greenway sections sprouting like mushrooms with the housing development west of NC 55. (Cary has been particularly vigilant about getting developers to play a key role in adding greenways when they build.)

Two greenways worth putting the bike on the rack for: Black Creek, which begins at Chapel Hill Road, runs through Godbold Park, then heads up to Lake Crabtree County Park, where you tap into a variety of riding and hiking opportunities. White Oak Creek, especially the new section from Davis Drive west to Green Level Church Road. Possibly the most scenic stretch of greenway in the Triangle.

In the works: The main push right now is to connect Umstead State Park with the American Tobacco Trail via the Black Creek and White Oak Creek Greenways. White Oak Creek will likely be the first to be finished; only a quarter mile stretch between MacArthur Drive and Davis Drive needs to be finished; the Black Creek section, which runs through existing neighborhoods, will take longer.

Also: expect Cary to begin addressing a common complaint about the greenways, a complaint common to all greenways: a dearth of signs telling you where you are and where you're going. "We'll start implementing them in the next couple of months," Cary parks planner Joe Godfrey said in early May 2008. "It'll take us about two years."

CHAPEL HILL

No. of miles completed: 4.5.
No. of miles expected to be added in the next 2-3 years: 1.
Maps & more: Online

Overview: At first blush, you may be surprised that Chapel Hill —together with sidekick Carrboro the most pedestrian friendly communities in the Triangle — only has 4.5 miles of greenway. That's paved greenway; the town has additional miles of natural surface trails that take advantage, seemingly, of every unused corridor in the heart of town. And anyway, isn't Chapel Hill pretty much all greenway, at least in spirit? Coupled with its sidewalks and its bike lanes the absence of a major, paved greenway network is of minimal concern. Still, it's nice to have amenities such as the 1.5-mile Bolin Creek Greenway, which makes a nice ramble from the Chapel Hill Community Center upstream. Name an activity that involves getting from point A to Point B on land and you'll likely find it along this recreationally diverse trail.

In the works: Bill Webster with the Chapel Hill Parks Department tells us the town hopes to lay a mile of greenway along Morgan Creek and, funds permitting, extend the Bolin Creek Greenway another half mile upstream, to Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.

CLAYTON

No. of miles completed: 0.
No. of miles expected to be added in the next 2-3 years: up to 3.5
Maps & more: n/a

Overview:
Clayton Parks & Rec. Director Larry Bailey makes no apologies for the fact Clayton has no greenways — yet. That's because the town is making big plans to make key greenway connections in the next few years. "We have a lot on paper at the moment," says Bailey. Clayton's paper trail would include a two-mile greenway from Legend Park down Sam's Branch to the Neuse River as well as a 1- to 1.5-mile greenway connecting Community Park to downtown. Bailey is particularly excited about the former because it would tie in with the emerging Mountains to Sea Trail, which is scheduled to run the length of the Neuse River to the coast.

In the works: See above.

DURHAM

No. of miles completed: 13.9

No. of miles expected to be added in the next 2-3 years: 3.2.
Maps & more: Online

Drham ATT

Overview: Durham's greenway system has a strong spine in the 7.7-mile American Tobacco Trail, part of the 22-mile ATT running from downtown Durham to southwestern Wake County. Currently, the ATT runs from NC 54 north to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and the American Tobacco Campus, a distance of 7.7 miles. From there, it hooks up with the .75-mile Downtown Trail that connects on the north side with the Ellerbee Creek and South Ellerbee Creek greenways (1.8 miles), which eventually will hook up with trail leading to the Eno River and, eventually, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. (Yeah, that's a lot of eventuallys.)

In the works: Two biggies: The pedestrian bridge over I-40, which would provide a crucial link between the 7.7-mile stretch to downtown (see above) and the ATT to the south, which, with a small bit of trail through the Streets at Southpoint, would then connect with the Chatham and Wake portion of the ATT.

Photo: The ATT in Durham.

MORRISVILLE

No. of miles completed:
1
No. of miles expected to be added in the next 2-3 years: 3.5
Maps & more: no

Overview: At present, Morrisville has the mile-long Hatcher Creek Greenway at Morrisville Community Park.

In the works: The backbone of Morrisville's greenway system, says parks & greenway planner Ed Lynch, is the Indian Creek Greenway, which will run along Morrisville-Carpenter Road. About two miles of that will be done within two years. "Our intention," says Lynch, "is to connect other greenways to it."

RALEIGH

No. of miles completed: 60.
No. of miles expected to be added in the next 3 years: 11
Maps & more: Map updated in in fall 2007 available by calling 890-3285; online

Overview: Raleigh laid its first stretch of greenway — about 300 yards long — in the late 1970s. It was the first installment in a system envisioned to cover 270 miles, primarily following the Walnut Creek, Crabtree Creek and Neuse Corridors. At the time, it was expected that 200 miles of greenway would exist by the year 2000.

Walnut Creek greenway
The network has fallen well short of that goal — with 60 miles down as of 2008 — but it's gaining momentum. Whereas the network once consisted of mile-long stretches here and there, connections made over the past few years have created an 11-mile, nearly continuous stretch along Crabtree Creek and a greenway that now extends from the Meredith College campus, across the Beltline, throught the N.C. Museum of Art and and up Reedy Creek Road, where it connects with a hard-packed natural surface trail through Umstead State Park and the Black Creek Greenway in Cary. Total distance: 14 miles. Eventually, that trail will connect with Cary's White Oak Creek Greenway, which will connect to the American Tobacco Trail. Estimates are that within the next five years it will be possible to ride a bike from WakeMed in east Raleigh to downtown Durham on greenway.
Walnut Creek Greenway


In the works:
As of May 2008, Raleigh was on the cusp of making some significant greenway connections.

  • This month, the city expects to complete the last stretch of it's greenway along Walnut Creek, running from Worthdale Park west to Lake Wheeler Road. (From Worthdale east the greenway will eventually connect to the planned Neuse River Greenway; at Lake Wheeler Road it will hook up with a planned greenway through N.C. State's Centennial Campus, which will link with greenway at Lake Johnson.)
  • Bidding on the House Creek Greenway is expected to take place this summer, with construction beginning early next year. This 2.9-mile stretch of greenway will link the aforementioned Museum of Art/Reedy Creek greenway with the Crabtree Greenway.
  • Design is underway for the HoneycuttCreek Trail, which will link existing greenway north of Shelley Lake with the Falls Lake Trail/Mountains to Sea Trail.
  • Bidding is expected to begin this summer on an 8-mile stretch of the Neuse River Greenway, from Falls Lake dam downstream to the CASL Soccer Complex.

WAKE FOREST

No. of miles completed: 3
No. of miles expected to be added in the next 2-3 years: 1
Maps & more: online

Wake Forest greenway

Overview: Wake Forest's longest greenway is the 3/4-mile Smith Creek greenway that runs behind the Caddell Woods and Moss Creek subdivisions. The remainder of the town's greenways are quarter- to half-mile sections at the Smith Creek Soccer Center, Kiwanis Park, Tyler Run Park, Flaherty Park, Miller Park and the Olde Mill Stream section of the Richland Creek Greenway.

In the works: Wake Forest's Open Space and Greenway plan calls, eventually, for a north-south greenway along Richland Creek that would connect existing greenways and run from Joyner Park north to Franklin County.

Photo: Olde Mill Stream section of the Richland Creek Greenway.

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