Find Your Trail

The weather is warming up in central North Carolina, that means shifting our indoor activities to the great indoors. In North Carolina, we are fortunate to have access to many free walking trails. In fact, 96.4 miles of the Appalachian Trail run through our state. From the mountains to the coast, trails range from greenways to paddle trails. In our part of the state, we encourage you to explore trails in your own backyard. Trails may vary in length, nature features and price, so make sure to choose the trail that best suits your walking needs!

American Tobacco Trail

Photo by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

From 1920 to 1974, the New Hope Valley Railroad’s main function was to transport tobacco from regional farms to downtown Durham. In 1989, the Triangle Rails to Trails Conservancy was founded to preserve these abandoned railway corridors for future transportation and recreation usage. Architect Charles Fink developed the master plan for the American Tobacco Trail, the very same one we enjoy today! The route itself crosses through Chatham, Durham and Wake counties, with access points along the way.

The trail runs for 4.6 miles in Chatham County, running parallel to Jordan Lake, and is reserved for hikers, runners, bikers and equestrians. Parking locations for the Chatham County section of the trail are available online. Canoe access is also available along the Haw River and South Bynum River, with entry points on US 15/501 and US 64.

If you are committed to trekking the American Tobacco Trail in its entirety, you’ll experience lush pines and abundant wildlife, including beavers, hawks, owls and deer. Trail connections are becoming available to make the American Tobacco Trail part of a 75-mile greenway, connecting trails throughout the Triangle region.

The Haw River Trail

Photo by Piedmont Legacy Trails

On the Haw River Trail, it’s all about conservation through recreation. The Haw River Trail is a 70-mile-long multi-use trail following the path of the Haw River from Haw River State Park to Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. Combined with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail beginning in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hikers can pass through this stretch of North Carolina along the Haw River as part of their journey. While future trailways are being developed, currently over 20 miles of the land trail is open to the public in Alamance County.

An area rooted in history, the banks of the Haw River are home to the state’s first Native American communities and to the first European settlers. Check out the Land Trail overview to start planning your adventure on the Haw River!

Briar Chapel Trails

Photo by Briar Chapel

The backbone of the Briar Chapel community in Chapel Hill its trail system of more than 20 miles, connecting community members to parks, schools and neighbors. In partnership with Triangle Off-Road Cyclists, competitive mountain bike trail sections offer bikers more than 10 miles of track.

Trails for walking or running are open to the public every day from dawn to dusk!

Jordan Lake Track Trail/Seaforth Pond Trail

Photo by AllTrails

Jordan Lake is home to all things recreational! Located near Pittsboro, this 2-mile trail is for hikers of all levels. A popular trail for birding, camping and fishing, the trail is open year-round for exploration enthusiasts and their dogs!

Vista Point Blue and Red Trail

Photo by AllTrails

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.