What it is: This has to be one of my favorite parts of living in Durham. The American Tobacco Trail is a 22-mile section of trail built on what use to be railroad that runs from Wake County up through Durham to downtown Durham and points northward. While there are sections at various levels of completion, some paved, some gravel, some not even completed yet, it still provides a fabulous place to walk, run, or bike.
There is a long paved section that runs from the intersection of Hwy. 54 and Fayetteville Rd. to downtown Durham, so this trail is a great place to practice for long distance runs. Plus, since that section is wide and nicely paved, it can be a great place for a stroller walk. My husband has even been known to bike into work on it.
About 2 miles north of Hwy 54, just before Martin Luther King there's also a park, Solite Park. I have personally never been to it, but there's a play structure, picnic tables and restrooms if you need a break from the trail.
I've walked or run on several sections of the trail. As stated earlier, you can park just off Fayetteville Rd. north of Hwy. 54 basically at the north eastern end of the Kroger shopping center parking lot and walk the trail from there. You can also park off of Scott King Rd. near Herndon Park and catch the trail either North or South. These sections of the trail near Herndon Park are not paved but are a little more quiet for a walk through nature. Another fun way to use the trail is to use it to get to Sutton Station which we've discussed in an earlier post or even the American Tobacco District in downtown which both have good access from the trail.
Right now, the trail does not have access to the Southpoint Mall area or cross over I-40, but there are plans in the works for a bridge and additional trail to connect the portions of the trail both above and below the freeway.
What we like: We really like the paved section of the trail described earlier for a nice stroller walk or way to give the toddlers some running space. The trail is wide and car free and surrounded by trees in most points. It's a fabulous asset for Durham.
What we would change: The biggest concern I have about the trail is safety on parts of it. There are sections of the trail where I would not walk or run alone. While there are plenty of parts that are safe for you to be on alone, especially between Hwy. 54 and Martin Luther King Blvd., and I have felt completely safe with a friend on all sections, there is always a safety concern on a wooded trail that runs up through a city.
Website and Directions: The American Tobacco Trail runs through the entire length of Durham with numerous parking and access points. There are several detailed maps of the trail at the website below.
1. A section of the American Tobacco Trail near downtown
2. The proposed bridge over I-40 for the American Tobacco Trail (wouldn't this be wonderful?)
*Photos Courtesy of ci.durham.nc.us