Crabtree Creek Trail: North Hills Park to Crabtree Valley Mall

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 11.00.37 PMTimes have been rather difficult in our household for the past few weeks.  My mom unexpectedly passed away at the end of March so my world has been flipped upside down and writing has been pushed to the back burner.  As I set out to get back into writing park reviews, I’m reminded that I started this blog because of my mom.  She’s the one who created lasting memories for me at our local parks growing up.  She’s the one who enrolled me in summer camp.  She’s the one who taught me (and the rest of Stafford County youth) how to swim.  She’s the one who helped me get my first job at Curtis Park Pool.  She’s the reason I want to create lasting park memories for my kids, nieces, and friends’ kids.  So please bear with me as I get back into writing…

IMG_0075.jpgA few months ago my sister and her family were in town so we set out for another run on another (new to us) section of Crabtree Creek Trail.  To ease the double stroller intensity we put Claire and baby Ava in the same stroller and let Ashley ride solo.  We started at North Hills Park with the goal of running to the far western edge of Crabtree Creek Trail.  As mentioned in previous posts, the greenway trail at North Hills Park starts out extremely steep so use caution.  At the end of the steep hill we turned right, kept straight across the small footbridge, and then made a left to stay on Crabtree Creek Trail (turn right to proceed to Shelley Lake).  We shortly passed mile marker 12.5 before passing the access to North Hills Dr.  After crossing another bridge and running under Glenwood Ave we found ourselves behind Crabtree Valley Mall.  The greenway is mostly flat and residential in these sections and the foot and car traffic was very steady for a Saturday morning.

We passed mile parker 13.5 behind the mall and then ran under Edwards Mill Rd, which is when the foot traffic decreased and the residential landscape changed to empty commercial lots for a short while.  We even came across an abandoned wood and steel suspension bridge to nowhere. Glad to have running buddies with me, the landscape turned more inviting and more commercial on the Glenwood Ave side of the greenway and more residential to the left of the greenway.  We meandered along, taking in the wooded scenery and trying to find turtles in the creek before turning around just past the 14.5 mile marker at the western edge of the greenway by Lindsay Dr.

Despite the sunny pictures below it was a chilly day so everyone was bundled and made few noises throughout the long 5.5 mile trip.  After some playground time at North Hills Park we grabbed some Snoopy’s take-out and then headed to Raleigh Brewing Company for some much deserved beverages!  It made for the perfect combination of outdoor exercise, family fun and local beers!

Thumbs up: flat trail, views of the creek, several parking options along trail

Thumbs down: abandoned commercial lots past Edwards Mill Rd

Crabtree Creek Trail: North Hills Park to Lassiter Mill Park

IMG_9604Have I mentioned that we spent a lot of time on the greenway this winter?  So, here we are again, exploring a new (to us) portion of the Capital Area Greenway on the Crabtree Creek Trail from North Hills Park to Lassiter Mill Park (about 2.5 miles round trip).  We started at the greenway entrance at North Hills Park (100 Chowan Circle) so the girls could run out some energy at the playground afterwards.  If you’ve never been on this portion of the greenway, I’m forewarning you that the hill from the parking lot to the greenway is extremely steep, but the trail levels out at the bottom.

After we ever-so-slowly pushed the double stroller down the hill we turned left to follow the trail east under I-440.  The greenway wasn’t particularly busy this morning and running under overpasses tends to creep me out, so I’m glad Bill was with me.  Shortly after passing a bridge and access to Alleghany Dr, we saw mile marker 12.  Based on the placement of mile marker 12 on the greenway it seems the placement of mile marker 12 on the COR greenway map is too far west.  This portion of the trail is sandwiched between Crabtree Creek and beautiful residential homes.  The recent heavy rains caused the creek level to be pretty high, so between the rushing water and neighborhoods we all had nice things to see.

IMG_9642Then shortly after passing mile marker 11.5 the trail abruptly becomes unpaved and very narrow.  In hindsight we should’ve taken one of the Alleghany Dr access paths, but there were no signs beforehand to indicate strollers or bikes wouldn’t be able to pass up ahead.  So, we continued on the unpaved trail for a short time, all the while traversing over tree roots and narrowly squeezing between the creek and neighborhood roads above.  When it seemed impossible for the double Bob to continue on, I ran up ahead to see how much further until Lassiter Mill Rd.  At the end of the unpaved trail there is a set of stairs leading to Hertford Rd.  Take a left onto Hertford Rd and follow it along behind Root Elementary School and then cut over to Lassiter Mill Rd.  Turn left onto Lassiter Mill Rd where you’ll soon see Lassiter Mill on the left and Crabtree Creek Trail on the right.

While the signage on this portion of the trail is less than desired, the scenery along the creek is serene and enchanting.  Before you head out, review the greenway map or bring along your phone with GPS and/or utilize the RGreenway app.

Thumbs up: scenery along trail

Thumbs down: lack of signage alerting to unpaved trail ahead, narrow trail

Update: Crabtree Creek Trail near Crabtree Valley Mall


When Claire was about a month old, I felt good enough to go on a short jog so I returned to an area I was very familiar with – House Creek Trail.  We parked at Glen Eden Pilot Park and made our way down House Creek Trail towards Crabtree Valley Mall, which is a distance of 1 mile. What was supposed to be a short out and back jog turned into a longer outing with a visit to the mall because the girls were being so well behaved.

When we got to the end of House Creek Trail, we crossed over Blue Ridge Rd and then turned left onto Crabtree Creek Trail, which parallels Crabtree Valley Ave behind the mall.  It seems as if the pedestrian access to the mall has gotten much better since the last time we jogged this trail.  There’s a pedestrian bridge over the creek and some nearby grassy areas that would make a good place to walk a dog or have a picnic.  All of this great pedestrian access will come in handy when the mixed-use project across from the mall is complete.  When we were there last summer, a lot of dirt was being moved around, so I’m sure it’s made much more progress since then.  For more information about this mixed-use project read the article by Triangle Business Journal.

The other in-progress project we passed while on the House Creek Trail is the large Marshall Park apartment unit community.  This is the project you can see from the belt line with the massive brick retaining wall.

Before returning to our car, Ashley enjoyed some play time at the Glen Eden Pilot Park playground, which was more suitable for her now that she’s a little bit older.

Day After Tropical Storm Andrea

img_3338On Friday, June 7, 2013, Tropical Storm Andrea dumped over 5 inches of rain within 24 hours to the Triangle area (according to measurements at RDU airport).  Creeks and rivers rose across the Raleigh area so we decided to explore some of the greenways and parks on Saturday morning in hopes of getting some interesting photos.  Here are some photos along Crabtree Creek Trail at Lassiter Mill Park and near Crabtree Mall and of the wetlands at Fred Fletcher Park.

For comparison purposes, here are some of my previous non-tropical-storm-ridden posts of these areas: Lassiter Mill Park, Crabtree Creek near Crabtree Mall, Fred Fletcher Park

Hopefully I can figure out a way to upload my video of the gushing water here shortly. 

Hokies 3.2 Memorial Run on Crabtree Creek Trail

img_1767This past weekend, we explored part of the Crabtree Creek Trail greenway with over 50 fellow RTP Hokies for our annual Hokies 3.2 Memorial Run.  Our friends Becca and Brent organized the run, which started and finished at Big Boss Brewing Co.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day for the run and such a great reminder that Hokies are awesome! We even started the race with some Enter Sandman blasting from the car radio!

img_1770Like I said, we started the race at Big Boss Brewing Co, which is located at 1249 Wicker Drive in Raleigh.  Btw, they started a weekly run club about a year ago that you should check out! We headed north on Laurelbrook St and then made a left onto Hodges St, which runs parallel with the greenway.  Just east of Atlantic Ave, we jumped onto the Crabtree Creek Trail greenway and headed west.  This section of the greenway parallels Crabtree Creek so you have a nice view of the rapid flowing creek and several major overpasses and train tracks to cross under.  Being that we were pushing a stroller and not in our usual William & Kate shape, we lost sight of the group a few times on the way out.  Luckily some of the trail became familiar to me and at the fork in the road we headed right instead of left towards Kiwanis Park. We ran until we reached Oxford St and then turned around and headed back for a total of 3.2 miles.

Overall, this stretch of the greenway is nicely shaded, paved, and flat!  And, the best part of all was finishing the race with some much needed local beers at Big Boss with some awesome Hokies!  Ut Prosim!

Thumbs up: flat and shaded greenway, passing by the RTP Hokies hangout Carolina Ale House @ Creekside Dr, cold water and beer at Big Boss

Thumbs down: lack of signage or maps at forks in the greenway

Fallon Park

On the sixth day of Raleigh Parks, we visited Fallon Park, which is located just northeast of the Five Points area and not far from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School.  Fallon Park is a long and slender wooded area between Royster St and Oxford Rd at 2601 Oxford Rd.  A small stream runs off from the nearby Crabtree Creek and meanders through the park creating small pools for splashing and admiring the water creatures.

The lower level of the park has a large open field with a pavilion, picnic tables, and benches.  There is also a leaning deodar cedar tree planted almost 40 years ago that immediately grabs your attention.  Be sure to walk along the unpaved path in the park, where you’ll cross over bridges, admire the large rocks along the stream, and enjoy the natural setting.  On this particular day we passed quite a few people jogging and walking their dogs.  On the northern side of the park, there is a gazebo and additional benches and picnic tables.  If you continue heading north on Oxford Rd you’ll eventually come to a portion of the Crabtree Creek Trail, which can take you either to Lassiter Mill Park or Kiwanis Park.  I’d love to visit this park again in the spring or fall when the trees are in bloom or changing colors.

Thumbs up: natural setting, exploring the stream, neighborhood setting

Thumbs down: downed trees along stream

Under Construction: House Creek Greenway

Over the last few months I’ve noticed the new paved trail near Ridgewood Shopping Center and then the new pedestrian tunnels take shape along the beltline.  All of this has led me to ask, “What is going on?”  So, on the third day of Raleigh Parks visits, we did some exploratory research into the pedestrian tunnels and new paved trails that have been popping up in the area.

It seems the new greenway trails are part of the House Creek Greenway Trail that is currently under construction.  According to the Raleigh Parks and Rec website, this will be a 2.9 mile greenway that will extend from the Reedy Creek Trail at the I-440 pedestrian bridge to Crabtree Creek Trail at the intersection of Blue Ridge Rd and Crabtree Valley Blvd.  This piece of the greenway will give folks in North Raleigh a pedestrian trail for accessing Umstead Park.

In looking at the proposed trail map, this section of the greenway will start near the intersection of Wade Ave and Ridge Rd and head west along the inner beltline, go under Lake Boone Trail, go under Glen Eden Dr, meander through Glen Eden Pilot Park and then come out on Blue Ridge Rd near the McDonald’s.  From there, you can easily access Crabtree Creek Trail.

As I mentioned, we were out today to just explore what’s going on, especially since all the trails are still under construction and closed at this point.  We can’t wait to report back in Spring 2012 after it’s all finished!

Thumbs up: increased greenway access, pedestrian options for accessing Umstead Park, informative Raleigh Parks & Rec website

Thumbs down: nothing to report so far

Kiwanis Park & Crabtree Creek Trail

A few weeks ago we headed down to Lassiter Mill Park again to access the nearby greenway via Crabtree Creek Trail for a run. Little did we know that after a mile and half into our run, we would come to Kiwanis Park. It was a nice surprise and a good break from the run, as we weren’t anticipating either!

Following the greenway was a bit tricky in some places.  If starting near Lassiter Mill Park, you’ll  eventually come to Claremont Rd, where the greenway signs stop.  Take a left onto Claremont Rd and then cross Anderson Dr where Claremont Rd turns into Oxford Rd.  Stay on the sidewalks and you’ll shortly see the next portion of the greenway on your left, which will lead you straight to Kiwanis Park.  Despite the trickiness of the greenway, this has turned out to be one of the favorite running trails in Raleigh.  It is super FLAT and the bridges and scenery you pass make the running seem effortless at times.

The Kiwanis Park is located at 2525 Noble Rd just inside the beltline. It has a playground area with a jungle gym, but no swings. There are also several large open fields, mostly used for playing soccer. There is a sand volleyball court, baseball fields, and a basketball court. The nearby community center is not staffed and is available for rent.  The large pavilion has several picnic tables and restrooms.

Even though you can get to the park by car, why not make this a greenway/park/brunch adventure with the kids! 1) Run/walk 1.5 miles with the stroller on the greenway to the park, 2) let them burn up some energy on the playground while you rest from your run/walk, 3) then run/walk 1.5 miles back followed by 4) yummy brunch at Nofo at the Pig!

Thumbs up: flat portion of greenway, scenery along greenway, playground, open fields at park, recreational sports

Thumbs down: signage along parts of greenway, no swings on playground

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

Crabtree Creek Trail near Crabtree Valley Mall

Continuing on our greenway adventures, my next stop with the honey badger was to the portion of Crabtree Creek Trail directly behind Crabtree Valley Mall. I’ve been to the mall a trillion times and was always curious about this trail. So we parked in the gravel lot near the McDonald’s on Crabtree Valley Ave and headed north on the paved trail.

Views of the trail looking towards the gravel parking lot


Crabtree Creek with turtles basking in the sun


Pedestrian access to the mall (I’m sure the hotel-goers are thankful for that).


Heading north on the trail


Trail marker and Edwards Mill Rd bridge (a bit noisy)


The swampy creek on the other side of Edwards Mill Rd

This part of the trail itself is in good shape with benches placed throughout, but a portion of it is located along side an abandoned lot with rusty construction debris. I think this is near where the infamous Soleil building was supposed to be. Since I was by myself on this trip it made me a bit uneasy so after a mile into our stroll I turned around and headed back.

Despite walking in the middle of the day, the traffic on nearby roads was pretty steady making our walk more noisy than peaceful. In the future I would recommend bringing a buddy to walk with and walking in the morning hours.

Thumbs up: paved trail, access to mall

Thumbs down: noise, construction debris, darkness under bridge, general uneasiness