Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

The American Tobacco Trail

Posted January 27, 2009

What is your favorite trail? Please share your stories.

I’ve fallen in love with The American Tobacco Trail. It’s a perfect place for my rehabilitation following foot surgery. The Wake County side of the trail is wide, soft and scenic. I took the accompanying photograph of the trail in late afternoon near Apex when the sun was warm and golden. How many of you are familiar with this trail?

The master plan calls for the trail to stretch 22 miles from Durham to New Hill Road in Wake County. Right now you can enjoy a 6.5 mile leg of the trail in Wake County. Durham also boasts a paved and completed part of the American Tobacco Trail but I haven’t yet had the pleasure of walking or running that segment.

The American Tobacco Trail in Wake County can be quite lively depending on the time or day of the week. Equestrians use the trail as do walkers, runners, wheelchair users and bicyclists. The trail rules are pretty simple. Wheels yield to heels and everyone yields to horses. It seems to work pretty well. Keep in mind the trail passes through gamelands managed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. Several weekends ago the sound of gunfire from hunters was pretty loud on certain stretches of the trail. It’s not a bad idea to wear blaze orange during the fall hunting season.

Are there some other rails-to-trails projects that you like? Out of state, one of my favorites is the Virginia Creeper. What about you?


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  • ribbons55 Jan 28, 2009

    We love the American Tobacco Trail for biking. We try to ride it every week and look forward to the completion of the Chatham County section in June 2009 (Joe Godfrey in Cary promised!). How about a little prodding for Apex to finish their section of the White Oak Creek trail that will connect the present White Oak Creek Greenway to the American Tobacco Trail? That will be an awesome ride, running from Bond Park in Cary all the way to the ATT!!

  • Happyfeet1950 Jan 28, 2009

    The American Tobacco Trail is an awesome place. We take our grandchildren there. We have seen beaver and have heard their slaps as warnings. It is a very peaceful place, good for walking or biking.

  • thinknc Jan 27, 2009

    I've biked (coasted, technically) the Virginia Creeper Trail twice. With the forest and the river, farmland, and old train stop, it is a real treat for the senses. The ride is just over too soon. Of course, there's also the famous chocolate cake at the little restaurant on the way down...........shameful to ride so far and still have a net gain in calories!

  • jwstevens04 Jan 27, 2009

    Being from Goldsboro, I feel obligated to say Cliff of the Neuse, while I DO love it, and think it's beautiful, I also love Raven Rock. It's very peaceful and beautiful!

  • tennispro Jan 27, 2009

    I loved the trail at Lake Johnson when I lived and worked in Raleigh!!

  • Broker - Back from Lurking Jan 27, 2009

    I love it here in Durham - one of our many niceties. Makes access from SW Durham to the American Tobacco District a wonderful time by bike.

    And this isn't a 'rail-to-trail', per se - but in Gastonia they have a greenway (similar to many in Cary) that runs along the flood plane of one of the county's many creeks. That is a wonderful walk and/or bike ride - especially in summer when town is so hot!

  • The Big Five Insider Jan 27, 2009

    I have always loved the Dan Meek Trail at Holston Presbytery Camp in Banner Elk. Small, peaceful trail that follow a creek. And the hiking trails around Wildcat Lake.

  • ladybugs-mom Jan 27, 2009

    I love to go down to Apex and get on the American Tobacco Trail at its starting point and go as far as I can before the "under construction" zone in Chatham County. My husband & I rode our bikes down there alot when the weather was warmer, and look forward to doing that again soon. What a beautiful treasure we have right here in the Triangle.

  • ECU4lyf Jan 27, 2009

    mine is just a right of way path here in Edgecombe county, just outside of Tarboro, it goes thru some fields and around some woods and it goes down by Tar River for about 3 miles, you can see all sorts of wild life here, deer, bobcats, wild turkeys, you can even see the fish jump out of the water when they start feeding and spawning, great in the day light hours, but I wouldn't do it in the evening, I know there are bears here, don't want to run up with one of those.

  • fgump Jan 27, 2009

    shhhh....don't tell everyone our little secret! I run there weekly. Where else can you find 6+ miles in a straight line of soft-surface running? It's an excellent training location for a flat-course race, and for doing half-mile and mile intervals (trail distance marked every half-mile). It is a wonderful asset for our area.

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