12 Mind-Blowing Triangle Running Trails +2.5K fire icon
By John Huisman
Monday, Apr 24 2017

When you tire of the treadmill and you can't stand to take the neighborhood loop again, it's time to take to the trail. We partnered with Triangle Explorer, an avid runner and local scout, to bring you 12 of the Triangle's top running spots. Whether you're searching for super scenic (we've got sunset views and sunflowers) or a real challenge (burn, baby, burn), you'll find everything you need to cure your trail cravings. Not much of a runner? No worries—walk, jog, bike, bring the stroller or your dog to enjoy these Triangle gems!

Triangle Explorer's Top Trails
North Wake Landfill Park: A Run With a View

This is the spot to go if you want to challenge yourself with a steep hill to run. I like to warm up with a one mile lap around the capped landfill, then sprint up the quarter mile gravel trail leading to the top of the landfill. Your hard work getting to the top is rewarded with amazing views from the highest point in North Raleigh. It also makes a stunning place to catch the sunset.

Hike or Bike to Stunning Views
Free   .  North Wake Landfill District Park   .  Raleigh
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Photo by @TriangleExplorer
The Al Buehler Trail: Cross Country Trainer's Dream

Named after the famed Duke Cross Country running coach, this trail is not for the faint of heart. It’s a challenging 2.9 mile crushed gravel trail that loops around the Washington Duke Inn offering challenging hills and gorgeous views of the golf course. Once you’ve mastered this trail, you'll be ready for anything!

Run the Al Buehler Trail
Free   .  Al Buehler Trail   .  Durham
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Photo by @TriangleExplorer
Lower Neuse Greenway: See the Sunflower Fields

The lower Neuse Greenway provides a rural and scenic running trail from south Raleigh into Clayton. My favorite time to run along this trail is in June—that’s because at mile 23 you'll encounter acres upon acres of golden sunflowers blooming just off the trail. It’s a great spot to stop, enjoy the view and snap a selfie. Be sure to visit before the July heat wilts all the flowers!

Get Outdoors and Explore the Neuse River Trail
Free   .  Neuse River Trail   .  Raleigh
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Photo by @TriangleExplorer
Hillsborough Downtown River Walk: Run Along the Eno River

This is a great spot for a short out-and-back run. The urban greenway stretches 1.8 miles along the beautiful Eno River. The trail includes several sections of boardwalks and bridges with connections to nearby neighborhoods and parks. Be sure to keep an eye out for the stickwork sculpture along the trail that resembles a small castle! The trail is easily accessible from the free parking deck next to Weaver Street Market.

Stroll Down Riverwalk in Hillsborough
Free   .  Gold Park   .  Hillsborough
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Photo by @TriangleExplorer
Lake Lynn Park: Perfect for Laps Around the Lake

Lake Lynn is the perfect running location for doing laps in North Raleigh along the 2.2 mile trail of paved greenway and wooden boardwalks looping around the bank of the lake. You might catch a glimpse of waterfowl and turtles sunbathing on logs along the shore of the lake. It’s a particularly beautiful spot to run in autumn when the leaves start to change, creating a colorful backdrop to the lake.

Run Around Lake Lynn
-   .  Lake Lynn   .  Raleigh
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Photo by @TriangleExplorer
Umstead Park: Running Center of the Triangle

Umstead is one of the most popular places to run in the Triangle and it's especially popular for runners squeezing in a long run in each week. There are multiple trails of various distances with different trail conditions ranging from paved, crushed gravel and single-track trails through the woods. Whether you are running two miles or 20, you can easily put together a course for any distance you need. An added bonus? Many of the trails have water fountains every few miles to help you hydrate.

Wander the Wilderness at William B. Umstead State Park
Free   .  William B. Umstead State Park   .  Raleigh
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Photo by @TriangleExplorer
E. Carroll Joyner Park: Hidden Gems & Historic Views in Wake Forest

Easily my favorite place to run in Wake Forest. The park is 117 acres and has 3 miles of paved trails that loop around wild-grass fields and flower garden areas. Several restored farm buildings are also located along the trail. My favorite part is the section of the trail that runs along the towering pecan grove and 2,000 foot long stone ribbon wall.

Wander History & Nature at E. Carroll Joyner Park
Free   .  E Carroll Joyner Park   .  Wake Forest
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Photo by @triangleexplorer
Bond Park: Great Lake Views in Cary

An oasis within Cary! Bond Park spans 310 acres with 4.2 miles of trails including a scenic route around the lake. The trails are a combination of mulch and crushed gravel, single-track paths and paved greenway. The elevated trail along the berm of the lake provides great views of the water.

Do a Day at Bond Park
Free   .  Bond Park Community Center   .  Cary
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Photo by @TriangleExplorer
American Tobacco Trail Durham: Fast & Flat

Fast and flat is the name of the game along the American Tobacco Trail. This flat paved trail is just over 22 miles long and crosses three different counties stretching all the way from Durham to Apex. I like starting my run from the Durham Bulls Ball Park where there is plenty of parking. Afterwards there are plenty of great places nearby to eat so you can refuel after your weekend run.

Bike or Run the American Tobacco Trail
Free   .  American Tobacco Trail   .  Durham
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Photo by @haleypatton_
NC Museum of Art Park: Where Art & Running Connect

The 160 acres of fields and woodlands that surround the NC Museum of Art include several trails offering a unique intersection of art and nature. Multiple large sculptures and art installations can be found along the trails making for great photo opportunities. Trails from the art park connect to the Raleigh Greenway System so you can easily build a run of just about any distance starting from the park.

Bike the Greenway at NC Art Museum
-   .  North Carolina Museum of Art   .  Raleigh
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Photo by @TriangleExplorer
Bolin Creek Trail: Trail With A Hidden Coffee Shop

Art installations mark the start of this trail in the small Community Center Park just outside downtown Chapel Hill. The 10-foot-wide paved path then stretches 1.5 miles along a small creek that meanders through the forest making for a nice out-and-back run. Coffee lovers take note, there's a short connector path (marked with a sign) that shoots off the side of the trail and leads you to the popular Caffe Driade nestled in the woods.

Wind Down Bolin Creek Trail
Free   .  Chapel Hill Community Center   .  Chapel Hill
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Photo by @TriangleExplorer
Upper Neuse Greenway: Run along the Neuse River

Raleigh has a wonderful greenway system and this is one of my favorite parts. I enjoy the paved 10-foot-wide trail that starts just below the outfall of Falls Lake Dam in North Raleigh. The trail meanders through a lush vegetated buffer that hugs the river providing nice water views. There’s a good chance you’ll see a blue heron hunting for fish along the riverbank and you might just encounter a deer grazing along the trail at dusk.

Get Outdoors and Explore the Neuse River Trail
Free   .  Neuse River Trail   .  Raleigh
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Sharing thoughts about things to do, places to eat, and local culture in the Triangle area of North Carolina: Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill.