I can’t rave enough about the first 20 miles of our ride today. We were outside of downtown Raleigh within a matter of blocks and on a trail in just over a mile. And then we stayed on them for 20 or so meandering miles, at times along a river, at other times along fields (apparently full of sunflowers at the height of summer). Sometimes we saw neighborhoods with a connector to the trail. Lots of boardwalk (so lots of money spent), many short bridges and then some serious ones. It’s all part of the Capital Area Greenway Trail System. We rode parts of the Little Rock Trail, the Walnut Creek Trail and Neuse River Trail into the next county.
This fuzzy photo of a map gives a sense of what Raleigh has to offer — and remember that we rode from Durham to Raleigh via Cary last year primarily on trails too, and I fell in love then. So those red lines capture only part of what the area has to offer, and obviously it’s more than just the East Coast Greenway. But like the East Coast Greenway, it shows the power of connecting trails.
Here’s a view from the trail:
That may look like a harmless stream or creek but clearly it had recently flooded:
A view from a bridge:
The value of trails couldn’t have been made clearer than when we reached the Clayton River Walk’s trailhead at Covered Bridge Road and had to leave the trail. We had a long, steep-ish hill on a somewhat curvy road with the tiniest of shoulders. One motorist patiently held back behind a few riders slightly ahead of me, and traffic started backing up. The third in line became impatient at one point, pulled out and zipped past the two cars in front. Another thought about doing the same. I was equal with him at that point and the passenger window was open. I could see a car in the oncoming lane and quickly said there’s a car coming. So one mess averted. But I do wish there had been a trail to take us to downtown Clayton.
We hit another lovely (much shorter) trail toward the end of the day — the Buffalo Creek Greenway/Smithfield Neuse Riverwalk. Unfortunately, the local hotels are a few miles away at the other end of town, by the interstate.
Why is today’s distance longer than advertised? A bit of backtracking to reach that last trail — and more backtracking from the hotel to visit the Ava Gardner Museum that tacked on about four miles.