New Trail in SW Durham

Posted by Kevin Kirk on Monday, February 21, 2011
Late last fall Duham unveiled another wonderful trail for outdoor exercise.  The Third Fork Creek trail runs from Garrett Road Park on Garrett Road (across from Jordan High) north to Martin Luther King Freeway.  The total length of the trail is about 3 miles (one way).  This trail is very flat and surprisingly isolated, given that it runs very close to several neighborhoods that are quite large - like Hope Valley Farms.  At present, parking is available at the Garrett Park terminus, but not at MLK (there appears to be construction of a parking lot accessed from MLK, but I am not certain of that).  However, if you are going to make and "out and back" trip, I strongly suggest parking in the Woodcroft Shopping Center at the Woodcroft Parkway end.  The trail goes between the lot and the parkway for easy access.  This starting point will avoid the intersection with Hope Valley Road.  At this point, there are no crossing aids for that road and getting across can be quite difficult - especially if you have inexperienced pedestrians or cyclists (read: children).  Starting in Woodcroft only cuts off a couple of hundred yards of trail.
There are a number of boardwalks, as a large portion of the trail goes through wetlands.  The boardwalks have no railings.  The good thing about that is there will be no collisions with railings by cyclists who have misjudged the approach.  The bad thing is that there is nothing to keep you from riding off into the mud.  Again, could be an issue with inexperienced users, as well as riders easily distracted by the beautiful surroundings (like me).
The great thing about this trail is that it connects to the Woodcroft trails and the bike lanes and sidewalks on MLK.  Both of those also connect to the American Tobacco Trail.  Thus you can make quite a lengthy loop out of your run or ride - about eight miles (estimated measurement).  And of course you can go out and back from the ATT to make it even longer.  Be aware, there is a Steady gain in elevation from the low-lying Third Fork up to the ATT.  But the climb at one end is rewarded with a return down at the other.
This is an excellent system, and provides another option to the well-used ATT between MLK and Rt. 54.  Thanks, Durham, for giving us another great place to enjoy outdoor exercise!


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