Showing posts with label Neuse River. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Neuse River. Show all posts

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Neuse River Greenway Segment 3 Construction Update and Photo Tour

I've been anxious to know how construction on the Neuse River Greenway Segment 3 is moving along, especially since the powers that be forbade access to said segment last Fall. I noticed that the "No Trespassing" signs were down a couple of weeks ago. So, I figured that was pretty much an invitation to check it out.Starting from the Raleigh Beach Rd. access point

It's not an invitation. There are still workers and large machines on Segment 3 throughout the week. And, I'm sure they'd prefer that the general public stay out of their way. As you'll see in the photos below, there is still much work to be done.

Saturdays and Sundays appear to be fair game, though!

So, yesterday I headed out on Segment 3 from Raleigh Beach Road to see how far I could go. The cleared area to the left of the port-a-lou in that photo above wasn't there before. So, I went that way.

My secret hope was that Segment 3 would be connected via bridge to Segment 2, which is also under construction. And, if that were the case, I'd be able to run all the way to Segment 1, which is complete. And, that would mean I could, theoretically, run all the way to Falls effin' Lake!

I'll go ahead and tell you now that Segment 3 and Segment 2 are still, at this time, very much separated by the mighty Neuse River. They'll probably connect the segments the day after I move, thereby diluting the thrill of the occasion for me by, like, 78 percent.

Anyway, I'll skip from the port-a-lou at Raleigh Beach Rd. to the section behind the Hedingham Neighborhood, which will seem very confusing if you haven't been here before. We're going to be running this trail out and back, though. So, I won't let you miss anything.

Neuse River Trail behind Hedingham
The Greenway behind Hedingham still looks very much the same as it did six months ago.
used to be single-track
This used to be about a quarter mile of single-track trail. Sigh.

And, it just gets smoother. That's dirt, not concrete.
retaining wallYou know they're serious about the Greenway when there's a retaining wall involved.
Caution TapeHmm. Caution tape. What could that mean? How will I get around that?
South end of Segment 2
This is where Segment 2 will join Segment 3 once the bridge is put in place — someday.

The remainder of Segment 3 to Abbington Ln. is smooth and ready for paving. The parking area is blocked off at the moment.

So, now we're turning around and re-seeing the stuff you just saw in the photos above. We'll skip past Hedingham again and resume the photo display at the marshy area surrounding a wooden bridge that serves as the entry to the Hedingham section from the south.

marsh
Marshy area suitable for bird and fish watching.
nice view
Oh, say, that'll be a nice view once the canvas fence is gone.

Here's a bridge I resisted crossing after I passed that port-a-lou at the beginning. Saving the best for later, and all that. Wonder where it goes.
Neuse River DamDaaayuuum! Who knew that was there?
south view from bridgeHere's the other view from the bridge. Of course, there's a piece of trash on an otherwise picturesque river island.

So, the bridge takes us to the east side of the river, where there's a small parking area off Old Milburnie Rd. People use this parking lot for fishing and kayak access. I figure this won't take me anywhere. But wait...

some sort of access road
There's some sort of access road heading north-ish from the parking area. Hmm...
no access
Oh. A few minutes later, I see that we're facing a gate barring access to this access "road" from Old Milburnie. The other side of that sign reads something like, "No Trespassing. State Owned. Blah, blah, blah." Time to turn around.

The sojourn on the access road wasn't completely wasted though. I saw a little fishing trail leading into the woods. And, here's a nice scene! Apparently, I'm not supposed to be here, though.

Back across the bridge and cross the port-a-lou intersection to proceed south from the Raleigh Beach Rd. spur.

Bridge is out
It looks like they're redoing that bridge, or getting rid of it. The detour on the left is a little inconspicuous. It's not a long detour, though.
new intersection
Well, this intersection wasn't here before. The right side is old. The left side is new. Let's see where that one takes us.
bridge ready for placementAh, okay, that left-side path reconnects with the right side at the point where they're going to place another new bridge. This bridge will connect the quarter-mile Knightdale "greenway" with the Neuse River Greenway's awesomeness. That'll be cool.

This last photo pretty much marks the end of Segment 3. Anderson Point Park is just around the bend and across a highway overpass from here. So, we'll turn around and head back to the start.

The City website indicates that this greenway segment will be complete in the Fall of 2012. So, in a relatively short time, all of this will be paved. That's okay, though. I've matured over the past year and a half. And, I'm much more tolerant of paved running terrain. I've learned to appreciate any sort of runnable space, really.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Neuse River Greenway Update: A Trail Runner's Guilty Pleasure

I was dismayed, no, extremely perturbed to find that the rustic segment of the Neuse River Trail I'd been frequenting for convenient off-road runs was closed for construction a couple of weeks ago. There are signs at each access point that read, "No Trespassing[.] Trail closed for construction[.]" I mean, how am I supposed to get past that kind of barrier?

We knew this was coming. I told you about the plans for the grand Neuse River Trail Greenway several months ago. And, it's finally hit my portion of the river.

Neuse River Greenway Sign
See more photos of the new Upper Neuse Greenway in Get Going NC's Flickr photo set.

So, I've had to seek other conveniently located natural areas in which to run. And, wouldn't you know it, the Upper Neuse Trail Greenway opened to the public in September!

This isn't an off-road trail, mind you. So, I was hesitant to try it out. But, hey, this is pretty much my nearest space for running that's not in the neighborhood. So, I figured it'd be worth a go. Besides, if I'm ever feeling really adventurous, I could run this portion of the Greenway right over to the single-track trails at Falls Lake.

In spite of my obvious penchant for unpaved running surfaces, I have to say that my first two runs on the Upper Neuse Greenway were downright enjoyable. The path is paved with that dark, soft asphalt, the kind that doesn't smack your feet quite as hard as concrete sidewalks do. And, the course winds through some beautiful flatland along the river with lots of vines and foresty stuff.

You'll also notice that there's no shortage of space on this new greenway. It's rather luxurious, really. Whole bunches of bikes will ride by without forcing you off the path into the grass. Even the bridges are wide enough to dispel any sense of claustrophobia on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Upper Neuse Greenway Luxuriously Wide
The Upper Neuse River Greenway at Mile Six

There are quite a few convenient access points along this portion of the greenway if you happen to live in close proximity to said access points. Otherwise, your best bets for getting to the Upper Neuse Greenway via automobile are from the parking areas at the north and south ends.

Upper Neuse Greenway at Capital Blvd.
Upper Neuse River Greenway at Capital Blvd.

Find the northern parking area off of Falls of the Neuse Rd. across the street from the Falls Lake Fishing Area and dam. You'll make a quick right turn and drive a short distance to the parking lot, which seems to be open all the time. (Don't quote me on that)

The southern trail head may be found at the back of the WRAL Soccer Center off Perry Creek Rd. Drive toward the far side of the complex and park in any of the gravel lots that are open. Then, get out of your car and head as far away from Perry Creek Rd. as you can until you find the trail head. Be sure to get back to your car before 5 PM, because the Soccer Center closes its gates at that time, at least in the off season.


View Upper Neuse River Greenway (Phase I) in a larger map
Ignore the comments about unpaved areas.
Thanks to Joe Miller for creating this map.

So, despite my frustration with the temporary closure of the Neuse River Trail segment nearest to my home, I'm really excited to have this newly constructed segment available. Sure, I have to drive further. Sure, it's paved. But, still, a really long greenway is a welcome addition to this area's expanding network of running/riding space. Check it out if you haven't already!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Trail Review: Neuse River Trail :: Anderson Point Park to Skycrest Dr.

Neuse River Trail: Anderson Point Park to Skycrest Dr.


Trail Location:Neuse River Trail Segment 3 Map
Anderson Point Park | Raleigh, NC

Trail Distance:
7.7* miles (out & back)

Trail Difficulty:
Easy

Elevation profile & map >>

See the Raleigh Parks and Rec. map >>



* approximate distance
The next time you happen to find yourself on the East side of Raleigh with your running shoes and clothes at hand, check out a pastoral pathway along the Neuse River that connects Anderson Point Park to (the future) Skycrest Drive. This is segment three of the Neuse River Trail, which will one day become the "central spine" of the Capital Area Greenway.

Here are some snippets from the project description on the RaleighNC.gov website:
...This trail will begin at Falls Lake Dam and will extend along the river to the Wake County line, a distance of 28 miles.
The Neuse River Trail project is divided into several segments for the purposes of awarding construction contracts.
Construction is scheduled to begin after the completion of the design of each segment with final completion of the project scheduled for late 2012.

According to the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department's plans, this trail review will be partly obsolete by 2014, because they intend to pave the entire Neuse River Trail (Pavement disqualifies a trail from being a trail. My rules). A recent article indicates that the paving of segment three will take place sometime this year. So, if you prefer dirt and mud to asphalt and dodging bikes, get out there before paving begins.

trail head of the Neuse River trail from the parking lot at Anderson Point ParkCurrently, though, the Neuse River Trail surface is mostly comprised of groomed dirt over a trail wide enough to accommodate standard-sized vehicle traffic. The trail terrain is primarily flat and easy to run with just a couple of beastly hills in the middle of the course to make things interesting. The north side of the trail turns into a single-track, technical path; which is probably the highlight of the whole 3.9 miles (point to point).

As the name implies, the trail follows the Neuse River. So, you'll have some pretty nice views of the water during your run. And, the sound of rushing water in certain spots along the way is definitely a plus. It's not uncommon to see deer staring at you from the forest's edge.

The Neuse River Trail doesn't exactly put you out in the middle of untamed land, though. You'll pass a couple of housing developments along the way. And, Hwy 64 crosses the river around mile 1.5 from the park. So, don't worry about getting lonely out there.

Running the Trail

I run this trail pretty frequently, because it is convenient to where I live. The trail measures roughly 3.9 miles in one direction from the Anderson Point Park parking lot to the "trail end" marker. Obviously, it would be silly to run less than four miles point-to-point. So, you should plan to run this trail out and back, making your run a total of around 7.7 miles. It's a good way to spend an hour on a nice day when you can't make the trip to Umstead or Falls Lake.

Neuse River Trail mostly flat

Starting your run on the gravel path from the parking lot at Anderson Point Park (the first parking lot before the bridge), you'll turn left after a few meters and see the trail head marker. The river will be on your right as the trail rolls up and down before leveling out for a while.

A couple of wooden bridges add variety to your footing as the trail itself shifts from crushed gravel to hard-packed dirt. After a decent rain, the Neuse River trail becomes especially muddy in some spots.

You'll continue along the path at a comfortable pace, cross beneath the Hwy 64 bridge, and keep going until the trail turns left through a swampy corridor of trees. If there were alligators to fear, this would be the spot to be cautious.

A paved road intersects the trail now. Don't worry. Just turn right onto the road and continue running. Make your first left up a short, steep hill—no shame in hiking this one. Then turn right onto the gravel trail. Goodbye pavement.

avoid the dachshundNot the actual dachshund.
Two more hills and a wooden bridge bring you to the portion of trail that borders the Hedingham housing development. This is can be a treat, because someone here likes to walk her aggressive dachshund on the trail. She uses a retractable leash on the dog, but doesn't appear to know how it works. So, if you see a dachshund and an incompetent dog owner on the path while you're running, pass them cautiously. The dog is annoyingly confrontational.

After a mile of the wide path behind Hedingham, the trail becomes more technical and narrower with some decent tree cover. This is the best part, of course. Sadly, though, this root-ridden, sometimes rocky section extends for only about a quarter of a mile before leading you to the trail's end. But, on the bright side, you get to turn around and run the technical section all over again!
some technical terrain along the Neuse River Trail

My Favorite Features of the Neuse River Trail (Segment 3):decent hills here and there

  • that technical section towards the end (middle if out and back)
  • Flat or slightly rolling terrain makes for a predictable workout.
  • the river
  • one or two relatively challenging hills
  • convenient location for those of us living on the east side

Features I Dislike:

  • Housing developments detract from natural beauty.
  • flatness can be boring sometimes
  • A dearth of tree cover and humid conditions make running the trail in Summer months unpleasant.

Getting There

I prefer to drive to Anderson Point Park (map) and start at the first parking lot. If you cross the bridge over the highway to park in the lot directly beside Anderson Point, you've gone out of your way. Starting near the park affords you the opportunity to use the restroom or fill a water bottle.

(Okay, fine, you'll have to walk or run across the bridge to the facilities if you park where I told you to park. Use this as a warm up. You could use the entire paved park path as a warm up, too. I just like parking in the first parking lot, because I don't always have to use the restroom. But, if you'd rather be closer to the facilities than the trail head, then, by all means, park next to Anderson Point)

Some people park just off Hwy 64 where the road crosses the Neuse river. You'll probably see a car or two in this area. The area for parking here is small. And, the highway is busy. So, park at your own risk here.

There appears to be unofficial parking at the "Skycrest Dr." end of the trail, too. I've never parked there, though, because it's inconvenient and lacks facilities.

Summary

While the Neuse River Trail is certainly not Sycamore or Company Mill, it's not without its charm. The river landscape is enjoyable. And, the relatively flat terrain allows runners to pace themselves however they like.

Although I'll be very disappointed when the Neuse River Trail is paved, it's fantastic to see such grand plans for the trail in the works. I mean, running on an asphalt bike path beats running on sidewalks any day. And, the fact that this path will extend all the way to Falls Lake's trails is spectacular! Kudos to the Raleigh Parks and Rec. Department for that.

The Neuse River Trail (Anderson Point Park to Skycrest Dr.) elevation profile.
Check out an interactive map, too >>

check out the Neuse River Trail elevation profile

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