Kentwood Park

This post originally appeared on soutwestraleigh.com, where you can learn more about what a great place South West Raleigh is to live, work, and play.

Kentwood Park is located at 4531 Kaplan Dr in southwest Raleigh not far from the NC State campus and AB Combs Elementary School. It’s too bad the park entrance sign is missing, but given the park’s proximity to the road, it’s hard to miss the entrance.

From the medium-sized parking lot near the entrance you can get to all the park’s features within a very short walking distance. Follow the steps up to one of the four lighted tennis courts or follow the sidewalk to the large playground area and pavilion with picnic table

Unfortunately, the recent rains seemed to have resulted in more silt and sand covering the pavilion area. Near the back of the parking lot is a building with restrooms and a community board. The restrooms have certainly seen better days, but be sure to check out the community board especially if you’re interested in frisbee golf leagues. Just past the building is the lighted baseball field complete with bleacher seating for the spectators.

Signs are posted on the way to the baseball field alerting patrons of the stream restoration project that is in process. The sign notes that the City is intentionally not mowing sections of the park in order to allow the natural vegetation to build up and stabilize the stream bank. Check out the information plaque for more details about the in-progress restoration.

This is one of the few parks in Raleigh with an 18-hole frisbee golf course. It begins near Kaplan Dr and ends between the baseball field and tennis courts. Being close to NC State this is a very popular place for college students to play, as we saw several kids playing golf that day. Not ever having played frisbee golf, my competitive nature will definitely bring me back to the park soon to play.

Thumbs up: frisbee golf, tennis courts, playground

Thumbs down: bathroom facilities, landscaping, lack of park entrance sign

Museum Park

The Museum Park is located on the grounds of the NC Museum of Art at 2110 Blue Ridge Rd just outside the beltline.  Part of the trail through the park is shared with the Reedy Creek Trail greenway, which connects Meredith College to Umstead Park and Schenck Forest.  The museum was renovated a few years ago and besides biking the greenway past the museum, I hadn’t really stopped to visit this park.  So, we parked in the museum parking lot and followed the paved trail towards the very easy-to-read information board.

The information board highlights four different walking paths to take and breaks it out by distance, walking time, calories burned, and features you’ll see along the way.  Because it was a very hot Sunday and we had the stroller, we opted for the one-mile Ambler path, which allowed us to explore several works of art on the paved trail close to the museum.  For those planning ahead, here is a map of the park.



Information plaque with details about the park

Paved trail around the park
View of the East building

Here are the works of art we passed along the Ambler path:

Wind Machine by Vollis Simpson
Collapse I by Ledelle Moe
Gyre by Thomas Sayre
Close up of Gyre filled with concrete and covered in dirt residue
Another view of Gyre
Bill & Ashley under the Gyre
The Conversationalist by Chakaia Booker
Lowe's Pavilion by Mike Cindric and Vincent Petrarc
Another view of Lowe's Pavilion, made of steel, wood, aluminum, and concrete

A photographer’s dream shoot, the Museum Park has a gorgeous landscape of rolling hills with a sprinkle of wooded forests between the East Museum Building and the outdoor works of art.

Looking down at the Gyre artwork
Looking back towards the Wind Machine artwork
Greenway to Meredith College
Part of the unpaved trail on the Museum Park grounds
An unpaved pathway through the park
Great shady pathway for a picnic on the bench

Next, we explored one of the newer (to me, at least) features of the park, The Pond area.  With over 20,000 plants installed, this area helps with runoff, water pollution, and settling for sediment.  The terraced landscaping and even spacing of the plants had an Asian design feel to it, but what do I know!  Here’s a list of the various plants installed and some pictures to detail the beauty of this area:

What outdoor museum would be complete without an amphitheater and outdoor movie screen?! The NC Museum of Art holds several outdoor concerts and movies throughout the summer months.  Having finally made it to an outdoor movie last summer to see The Fantastic Mr. Fox, I can attest to how much fun they are.  So, bring a picnic dinner, lawn chairs or blanket, and some cash (for the beer/wine tent) and you’ve got the perfect, cheap summer night planned!  Btw, The Social Network movie is playing tonight at 8:30pm.

Some of the seating areas for outdoor movies
Looking towards the amphitheater

Overall, this park offers much more than any average park.  Whether just passing by on the greenway, planning a trip to the indoor museum, or watching a movie or concert be sure to plan enough time to explore the artwork in the Museum Park.

Thumbs up: picnic spots, rolling hills, outdoor artwork, outdoor movies/concerts, The Pond landscaping, information plaques/maps, parking

Thumbs down: few pockets of shade

Lake Lynn Park

A couple weeks ago I found myself in a terrifying position: at home alone with the baby for 36 hours. I hadn’t done that before. My lovely wife, the creator of this blog, was at the Britney Spears concert in Washington DC (I’m afraid I’m not joking) with her sister and some other troublemakers.

I asked my wife, “What do I do with the baby for that length of time?!” After an incredulous look followed by, “What do you think I do while you’re at work all week?” she politely suggested I take the baby to a yet unexplored park, take some pictures, and write a guest article on her blog. I did the first two at the end of July, and here I am mid-August completing the job.

My assignment was Lake Lynn Park. I had no idea there was a Lake Lynn. I knew Lynn Road from the shopping center with Goodwill and the movie theater that serves beer, but this lake was news to me. Turns out that it’s a great location for walking or running, and it’s teeming with fauna, considering its suburban location.

The park is squarely in north Raleigh, between 540 and 440 to the north and south, and Creedmoor Rd and Glenwood Ave to the east and west. I entered at 7921 Ray Rd and parked in a large, 90% empty parking lot on a Monday morning. (By the way, what were those 20 cars doing there? Don’t these people have jobs?) There is a large community center that looks like it’s used for things like summer camps, several lighted tennis courts, a lighted softball field, and a nice playground.

But, the real attraction is the lake and Lake Lynn Trail around it. The trail is alternately paved and a sort of boardwalk/causeway stretching over long sections of water. This segment of the greenway is part of the Hare Snip Creek Trail. I’ve heard it’s around 2 miles, but we didn’t make it to the halfway point before someone got fussy so we didn’t make it all the way around (I’ll leave who it was to your imagination).

There are waterfowl galore, including many stripes of duck and a camera-shy white swan. I even found a pair of adult turtles with their litter of babies sunning on a log, but they scattered when I was close enough for a photo. A little girl was feeding the ducks stale bread as we were leaving. I’m guessing this is a popular activity, due to the large duck population and their affinity to humans, hanging out within a few feet of a busy section of trail.

All in all, Ashley and I had a great time exploring this park. It’s another great Raleigh Parks facility, and ideal for going on a walk, feeding the ducks, or a short run with great scenery.

Weekend Agenda

So, BOB arrived this week! He’s navy blue and black with hints of gray, very sturdy and reliable, and was a complete surprise! BOB is not another BT rescue (2 is plenty) or a weekend guest; he’s my new jogging stroller! Everyone I’ve talked to who runs with their baby and young kids swears by BOB. Despite the price tag, it’ll be something you’ll still be using with kid 2+. So my sweet mom and mom-in-law conspired (on the advice of my husband I’m sure) to get me this early birthday present and I can’t be more excited! We love our current stroller deeply and will use it 75% of the time, but with the uneven sidewalks and gravel trails around here, Ashley looked like she was going to catapult out if I didn’t do a wheelie over every little bump.

BOB allows us to take our park exploration to a whole other level, so tomorrow morning we’ll be heading over to Umstead Park to probably hike the S. Turkey Creek Trail and Reedy Creek Lake Trail. These are ones we’ve biked pre-baby and they should be nice, shady trails for Ashley and the BTs.

But before we head to Umstead tomorrow, we’ll be heading out to Thomas Brooks park tonight at 5pm to watch the 16u and 18u PONY softball championship games.  Today is the last day of the tournament, which was co-hosted by the Raleigh Jaycees and NC ChallengersThomas Brooks park is run by the Town of Cary and it’s a first class softball complex.

On Sunday morning I’m heading up to DC to meet my sisters and friends for the Britney concert…should.be.awesome!  While I’m out of town I’m putting my husband on assignment (he’s finding this out while reading now) to explore a new park with Ashley and write about it for next week.  He’ll be so excited!  Happy weekend to you all!

Morrisville Community Park


After a rained-out start to our shift on Monday night, Tuesday proved to be plenty hot and sunny! Tuesday night we headed to Morrisville Community Park at 1520 Morrisville Parkway where the 10u girls age group was playing.  This park is run by the Town of Morrisville Parks System and it did not disappoint!

The softball fields used for the tournament are in the back, but you can’t help but stop and stare at the gigantic playground area on your way in. I think this playground is in competition with the Anderson Point Park playground for its massive size and ability to entertain! This playground has several jungle gyms hooked together by various bridges. There are also two swing sets and a shaded gazebo in the middle perfect for a picnic. The main playground sits on a rubbery base and adjacent to it is a sandy play area with see saws. A 0.6 mile paved jogging trail loop, which is part of the Hatcher Creek Greenway, is close by as well.

Playground area
Gazebo in middle of playground
Biggest playground ever!
Parking lot near playground
Access to the Hatcher Creek Greenway

Follow the walkway past the playground to the restrooms and adjacent pavilion with picnic tables and charcoal grill. There is a small open area in front of the pavilion too.

Pavilion with picnic tables and charcoal grill
Shady area near pavilion
Restrooms near playground and pavilion

Continuing on the walkway you’ll pass a large open field (mostly used for soccer according to another volunteer) and a small softball field with bleachers.

Smaller softball field
Open field

Finally in the back of the park are the two lighted softball fields, concession area, water fountain, and restrooms. Both fields have covered team benches and uncovered spectator bleachers. Today was a hot one for playing and watching softball so most of the team’s families brought in canopies, which they set up over the bleachers.

View towards Field 1
Field #1
Let's play ball!
Field #2
Restrooms and concessions
Water fountain
Benches along the walkway
Paved walkway

We were set up next to field 2 so we had a good view of the thrilling pickle, slides into third base, and outs at home. And these were only the 10u games!  I encourage everyone to come out and watch the games.  10u, 12u, and 14u Championship games will be played on Thursday at Middle Creek (10u and 12u) and Thomas Brooks (14U) parks.  16u and 18u Championship games will be played on Friday at Thomas Brooks park.  Stay up to date with dates and times on the PONY website.

Pretty tired after a long night of volunteering
Future volunteers! Chris with his daughter, Kennedy, and me with Ashley!

A nice feature to this park is the proximity of the parking lots to the playground, pavilion, and softball fields. There are large pockets of parking throughout the park.

Thumbs up: proximity of parking areas, functionality of walkways, quality of softball fields, friendly Town of Morrisville staff
Thumbs down: lack of shady seating near main softball fields

Our week at-a-glance: PONY & Parks

This week I’m doing something slightly different with our park visits. Instead of being a regular patron exploring the parks, I’ll be a volunteer with the Raleigh Jayeces during the 2011 PONY National Softball Tournament. This girls youth softball tournament brings teams from mainly the east coast and Canada to parks throughout Cary, Garner, Holly Springs, and Morrisville. Pool play began this past Saturday, but since I was out of town this weekend, I’m catching up on my volunteering with a few evening shifts this week (with Ashley in tow). The stormy weather in Richmond, VA on Saturday prevented Ashley from seeing the Richmond Squirrels baseball game so I’m sure she’s excited to catch a glimpse of her first live softball game.

PONY Baseball and Softball is designed to “Protect Our Nation’s Youth” by providing experiences in youth baseball and softball that will help young people grow into healthier and happier adults. Since 2007 the Raleigh Jaycees have hosted the tournament and this year they are co-hosting the tournament with the NC Challengers.  Check the PONY website for the tournament schedule of age groups and games.

As a member of the Raleigh Jaycees I get this unique opportunity to volunteer during the girls softball tournament, which is quickly becoming one of the area’s signature sporting events. So, come on out to a park this week, purchase a day pass, and catch some thrilling softball games. You’ll certainly be greeted by folks with a friendly smile and helpful information!

North Hills Park

North Hills park is located at 100 Chowan Circle in North Raleigh. Overall this is a basic neighborhood park with B+ features. As you arrive there is a medium-sized parking lot with a nice lighted baseball field on the right. It has bleacher seating for the spectators and a water fountain near the far team’s bench area. The adjacent grassy hill also provides plenty of additional seating.

Baseball field
Bleacher seating near baseball field

Water fountain near far team's bench
Another view of lit baseball field

At the top of the grassy hill is a building for restrooms and the Buffaloe family cemetery.

Building with restrooms
Buffaloe family cemetery

If you continue driving past the baseball field you arrive at the back parking lot near the two lighted tennis courts, playground, pavilion with picnic and access to the greenway. The playground has several connected jungle gyms with a hard mulch base and a smaller sandy playground. The pavilion has 6 picnic tables and a nearby charcoal grill. The wide, paved sidewalk provides easy from the parking lot around the playground and pavilion.

Large back parking lot
Tennis courts
Playground area
Another view of the playground
Sandy playground area
Benches and sidewalk near playground in the shade
Pavilion with picnic tables
Nearby charcoal grill

The access to the greenway is near the tennis courts. This is the North Hills Segment of the Crabtree Creek Trail and it is 1/4 mile of steeply sloped paved pathway. Going down isn’t bad, but pushing the stroller back up was quite a workout! I would definitely recommend the baby bjorn for this segment. The trail tees into the Crabtree Creek Trail, where if you go left you’ll head south towards Lassiter Mill Park and if you turn right you’ll head north towards Shelley Lake.

Access to Crabtree Creek Trail greenway
Beginning of paved greenway
Signs at the end of the North Hill Segment of the trail
Head left towards Lassiter Mill Park
Head right towards Shelley Lake

It’s amazing to think that under all these overpasses and adjacent to creeks and roadways exists this other world of trails.  Navigating through the greenways really helps you get a better sense of direction and helps you realize how close these parks really are to each other. It sort of reminds me of a foreign place like Middle Earth in LOTR.  I encourage you all to explore the greenway.  A lot of the trails are paved and shaded and would make for a great adventure with dogs, loved ones, or a group of friends.  So, pick a greenway segment, find a parking lot, and explore!

All smiles again

Thumbs up: quality of amenities, large parking lots, large playground, easy access to greenway, sidewalk access to pavilion and playground areas
Thumbs down: no sidewalk from baseball field to playground area

Isabella Cannon Park

The new Isabella Cannon Park is officially open! I had the great pleasure of attending the grand opening on Monday night with about 100 other fellow neighbors, kids, city leaders, and Raleigh Parks & Rec staff. Mayor Meeker and Councilman Crowder along with others spoke about Isabella Cannon and congratulated everyone on a job well done with the project. Mayor Meeker noted that Isabella Cannon served as Raleigh’s mayor from 1977-1979 and passed away in 2002 at the age of 97. She was also the first woman to serve as a capital city mayor in the U.S. and was elected during a turning point in Raleigh.

Park Dedication
Grand opening program
Mayor Meeker addressing the community
Councilman Crowder congratulating those on the project
Project Manager giving thanks
UPHA president giving her thanks
The ribbon cutting ceremony!

Isabella Cannon Park is located at 2601 Kilgore Ave inside the beltline. Even though there is no parking lot, there is plenty of side-street parking. The main entrance on Kilgore Ave has a very wide path, making it an inviting place to come.  There are additional stairway entrances near the intersection of Everett Ave and Gardner St across from the Rose Garden.

The new sign on Kilgore Ave
Main entrance on Kilgore with entry wall ahead
Side-street parking is available
Bike rack near the main entrance
Near corner of Everett Ave and Gardner St
Stairway entrance on Gardner St

Heading up the main entrance path is a beautiful stone entry wall in front of an open field surrounded by a concrete walkway. If you follow the path to the right you’ll see the renovated basketball courts, updated landscaping, playground with swing set, jungle gym, and see saws. The playground has both a mulch base and a sandy area with several picnic tables and benches scattered throughout.

Basketball courts
Basketball courts beneath large shade trees
Playground with swing set, jungle gym, and sandy area
Another view of the playground area
University Park Homeowners Association metal bench

Beyond the playground is a new stairway to the unpaved and more densely wooded area that has a charcoal grill. Continue on and you’ll find the stairs leading up to the entrance at Everett Ave and Gardner St.

New stairways leading to the unpaved section of the park

If you’re back on the concrete walkway continuing around the open field you should notice the newly planted Knockout Roses behind the entry wall symbolizing Mrs. Cannon’s love for the Rose Garden.  Along the walkway there are several comfortable benches to rest on or enjoy the views of the open field (still closed off to allow the grass to grow).  Once the grass grows in, it will be a great place for a flag football game!  There is a also new pavilion with 4 picnic tables on the far side of the path.

View of pavilion from across the field
Picnic tables at the pavilion
Comfortable new benches

Continuing past the pavilion you’ll come to the most unique feature of the park: a small rock climbing area!  The base has some padding to soften any falls and there are rules posted for climbing the rock.  According to some of the speakers at the event this is the only park in Raleigh with a rock climbing area.  The pathway extends up Kilgore Ave to the intersection of Latta St where the park ends.  There are more benches in shady areas and new landscaping to enjoy.

Rock climbing area
Pathway along Kilgore Ave
Additional benches along the pathway

Being at the grand opening really gave me a sense of what a community is all about.  The renovations for this park were provided by the 2003 bond referendum and from hearing the speakers thank those involved it sounds like the entire project from soliciting the community’s ideas to developing the master design plan to executing the project achieved the goals that were set forth…bringing a community together!  I only wish I had gotten involved with the UPHA years ago.

Baby Ashley was all smiles when seeing the new park

Thumbs up: rock climbing area, sense of community, pathways, benches, playground, basketball courts, picnic area

Thumbs down: nothing to note

Sneak Peek: Isabella Cannon Park

Sorry folks, park's closed!

Sorry folks, park’s closed…the moose out front should’ve told ya!  Nothing like a good John Candy clip from National Lampoon’s Vacation to get your Friday in gear!

Well, Isabella Cannon Park is closed for renovations right now, but a few weeks ago I walked down with Ashley and took some pictures from afar.  Wow! The renovations to the park look awesome! This park (formerly Gardner Street Park) has gone from dark and creepy to bright and inviting.
It is located across from the Rose Garden at 2601 Kilgore Ave. The main entrance is at the Gardner St/Kilgore Ave intersection, but there’s also a stairway entrance at the Everett Ave/Gardner St intersection.  Just remember not to enter the park until it’s officially opened.  They are having the Grand Opening on Monday, July 18th at 5:30pm, but I thought it’d be nice to show you a few sneak peeks of what’s to come:

Lots of new landscaping with new activities to explore!

Looking down from Gardner St

A new sign for the park

The new main entrance walkway
New hardscape provides easier access

Early next week after the grand opening, I’ll post a complete review of the park.  In the meantime, visit the City of Raleigh’s Park and Planning website to learn more about current projects.

Anderson Point Park

My mom visited this past weekend so on Friday morning we headed out to Anderson Point Park at 20 Anderson Point Dr in east Raleigh. This park is bordered by 264/64 bypass on the north, the Neuse River to the east and Crabtree Creek on the west. From the park you can also access the greenway via the Neuse River Trail which is over 4.5 miles of unpaved trails. Here’s a satellite view of Anderson Point Park from Google Maps.

When you arrive at the park, go around the cul-de-sac to the far left to the parking lot. From there we found a very helpful park map detailing all the features.  We then walked by the Large Shelter and headed left along the main trail, which is about 3/4 mile loop. The shelter is a large pavilion with several picnic tables, restrooms, and an adjacent open field with a back stop.

Main entrance sign
Informational board near parking lot
Parking lot
Large Shelter pavilion
Restrooms at Large Shelter
Open field with backstop near Large Shelter
Another view of the open field

Walking along the paved trail we first came to the amphitheater. It’s a beautiful stone-terraced amphitheater with lush green grass at each level. At the bottom is a large tree surrounded by a stone wall with benches and swings along the perimeter. The tree provides great shade for picnics or reading on a hot day.  My mom did comment on how difficult it might be to see any type of performance at the bottom due to the hedges at each terraced level.

Amphitheater
Large shade tree and benches
Ashley with her Cici
Looking from the top of the amphitheater

Back on the trail we followed the spiral pathway up to the scenic overlook. There’s a circular flower garden at the top surrounded by a stone wall perfect for sitting and enjoying the views of the park. There are also several covered swings at the top great for relaxing and taking in the scenery.

Pic of the paved trail
Flower garden at the top
Shaded benches at the top
View from the top overlooking the park

Continuing on, we passed bluebird trails and bird houses that attract martin birds. Luckily my mom, who is a bird enthusiast, was with us to identify the bird houses. The surrounding natural vegetation still allows for great views of the park.

Houses along the bluebird trail
Martin birdhouses

Next, we came upon a large open field with a backstop across from the Retreat Cottage. The cottage can be rented for conferences and events and contains a small nearby parking lot to use.

Open field with backstop near cottage
Sign outside cottage
Retreat Cottage for rent

Close to the cottage is the Small Shelter, which is a covered pavilion with several picnic tables and restrooms. It has an adjacent open field surrounded by crape myrtles and magnolias. Nearby there is also an information board with details about renting the various shelters, open fields, and Retreat Cottage.

Small Shelter with picnic tables
Restrooms near Small Shelter
Open field near Small Shelter
Beautiful crape myrtles and stone work near open field

Next on the trail is the largest playground I’ve ever seen. Part of the playground is covered in a mulch base and part is a sandy base. There is a large jungle gym, multiple swing sets, and several teeter totters with plenty of seating along the perimeter and sloped, grassy hill. The entire playground area is full sun, so be sure take a break at the nearby water fountain. The Small Shelter would be perfect for birthday parties with the playground being so close!

Looking down at the playground
Slides down the grassy hill
Large jungle gym
Swing sets
Another view of the jungle gym
Sandy area with teeter totters
Water fountain

Continuing on, we arrived near the entrance, which has several shade trees and swings overlooking a large part of the park.  The signs are helpful in directing you to the various parts of the park.

Shade trees and swings near entrance
Benches at the entrance
Signage near the front

We followed the trail back to the parking lot and headed out of the park, but not without stopping at the canoe launch that we passed on our way in.  Park in the lot there to get on the Neuse River Trail or head down the gravel road to the launch area for the Neuse River.

Canoe Launch sign from Anderson Point Dr
Gravel lot near put-in area
Launch area
Looking north up the Neuse River
Looking south towards the railroad tracks and 264/64 bypass

This is a great open park with lots of unique amenities surrounded by a paved trail that is perfect for walking the dogs and babies or going for a run.  We had a fun morning with lots of exploring, so we finished off our adventure with cupcakes from The Cupcake Shoppe!

Yummy red velvet

Thumbs up: scenic overlook, shelters, open fields, access to greenway, canoe launch area, playground, beauty of amphitheater, birding

Thumbs down: unsure of usage of amphitheater