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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.