As Seen in the Great Outdoors

Go outside. You heard us, go outside! There is plenty of summertime sunshine left to enjoy in and around Chatham County. Looking for ways to stay active in nature? We’re sharing our top destinations for hiking, biking, swimming, walking and camping in the area. It’s safe to say, we are very lucky to be surrounded by the natural beauty of North Carolina. Take advantage of it!

American Tobacco Trail:

Photo by Visit Raleigh

Now a recreational rail-trail, the American Tobacco Trail follows the abandoned railroad corridor of the Norfolk Southern Railroad, which was constructed in 1906. Originally used for the transportation of tobacco leaf, the railroad connected Wake, Chatham and Durham counties with the American Tobacco Company in Durham. When the tracks were removed in 1987, area citizens began using the former railroad as a recreational trail. Today, you can walk, bike or ride horseback along the very same path.

Of its nearly 23 miles, 6.5 miles are located in Wake County, 4.5 miles in Chatham County and 11 miles in Durham County. You won’t need to travel its entirety to experience the many views of woodlands, homes, fields, ponds and creeks. Along the way, you may run into beavers, herons, hawks, songbirds, vultures, owls, turtles or deer. Oh my!

Vista Point Blue and Red Trail:

Photo by The Glovetrotters!

Located at 2498 N. Pea Ridge Road in Pittsboro, hikers can choose to embark on the 1-mile blue loop or the 3-mile red loop hikes at Jordan Lake State Park. On the blue trail, hikers will pass an old tobacco barn and, during the summer, enjoy views of the cardinal flowers near the boardwalk. On the red trail, soak in the views of a serene lake cove and continue walking through the pine and hardwood forests. Winter explorers will still find greenery in the American holly trees or, for fall hikers, bursts of yellow in a field of bur-marigolds.

Turn your hike into a staycation at the Vista Point Campground, located on the western shore of Jordan Lake. With over 50 RV campsites available for rent, campers have access to full-electrical hookups and water, a boat ramp, hiking trails, showers, restrooms and a dump site.

Knight Farm Community Park:

Photo by Chapelboro

Pittsboro’s very own Knight Farm Community Park is named after the Knight family, Chatham County farmers and residents. A newer park to our community, Knight Farm Community Park is the first of five parks to be constructed at Vineyard Park inside of Chatham Park. While amenities are still being added to the park itself, visitors can enjoy a playground, walking trail, multipurpose field, splash pad and dog park. Future plans include the construction of 30 miles of walking, biking and multimodal trails.

Visitors will be able to access the Haw River and Jordan Lake via Knight Farm Community Park or experience live music and entertainment at the park’s amphitheater!

Lower Haw River State Natural Area:

Photo by American Rivers

At 160 Bynum Church Road in Pittsboro, North Carolina State Parks owns and manages 1,025 acres on both sides of the Haw River in Chatham County. This is what makes up the Lower Haw River State Natural Area. Why is it referred to as a natural area? The North Carolina Natural Heritage Program recognizes the area for its exceptional aquatic habitat, riverbank lands and its protection of endangered species.

Hike along the Lower Haw’s unofficial footpaths, kayak or canoe the lower sections of the Haw River, or bring your camera and binoculars to capture the area’s many birds and wildlife, including bald eagles, river otters, Great Blue Herons, northern watersnakes and more.

Northwest District Park:

And for those in Siler City, you are right around the corner from Northwest District Park at 2412 Woody Store Road. Hosting a gathering sometime soon? Make a facility reservation for their dining hall, activity center or picnic shelter. The park pool is available on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 – 5 p.m. You can still access the pond for catch and release fishing, but no swimming is allowed!

Other recreational amenities include a compacted trail, basketball court and playground!