Honeycutt Creek Trail: Strickland Rd to Honeycutt Park (MP 2.25 to 3.5)

honeycutt creek trailAfter exploring the northernmost section of East Mine Fork Trail, we crossed Strickland Road via the pedestrian access near West Millbrook Middle School to catch up with Honeycutt Creek Trail.  Heading east on Strickland Rd, we shortly passed mile marker 3.5 for Honeycutt Creek Trail.  Honeycutt Creek Trail was part of the 2003 & 2007 bond referendum that opened about a year ago and features 5.6 miles of greenway, some of which is unpaved.
Continuing on Strickland Rd, we followed greenway signs and turned left onto Carriage Tour Ln, which offered some great views of the gorgeous homes in the neighborhood.  Following the signs, we turned right on Chatterson Dr and found the official entrance to Honeycutt Creek Trail at 305 Chatterson Dr.  The beginning of the trail starts in dramatic fashion along a tall concrete walkway built between the homes of the Bent Tree neighborhood and forest that backs up to I-540.  The concrete walkway then leads into a slightly inclined wooden walkway that sits high off the ground offering great views of the nearby creek, residential homes and neighborhood pond.

pedestrian tunnelAfter running along the walkways we crossed under the I-540 pedestrian tunnel near the 2.75 mile marker.  I was pretty out of breath pushing the double stroller up the small hills we’d run so far, but I was definitely not prepared for the long, steep hills on the other side of the pedestrian tunnel.  Holy hills, Batman! Thankfully, Honeycutt Park (our destination) was only 1/2 mile away.  Honeycutt Park seems to be one of the lesser visited parks, yet it has great playgrounds with fun features for kids of all ages.  It also holds a special place in my heart as it was the last park our then family of 3 visited before little Claire was born (I have vivid memories of sweating it out in the full July sun).  The playground is in full sun, but there is a large nearby pavilion along with other park features including sand volleyball courts, basketball courts, and baseball fields.

After some playground time and a picnic lunch at the pavilion we headed back the way we came.  I was thankful the route was downhill, but had to work hard to control the heavy stroller down the steep hills.

If you wanted to continue north along Honeycutt Creek Greenway, follow the trail through the park and along Honeycutt Road to the Durant Rd intersection where it transitions to an unpaved trail.  According to the map, it continues north to Raven Ridge Rd where it connects with the South Shore Trail (part of Mountains-to-Sea Trail).  A note of caution: a portion of the unpaved trail between Durant Rd and Raven Ridge Rd is managed by the NC Wildlife Refuge Commission, which allows seasonal bow hunting.  According to the website, brightly colored vests are available for temporary use and signs display making it obvious of the game lands you’re entering.

Additional Resources:

Thumbs up: connectivity to Honeycutt Park and beyond

Thumbs down: steep hills

House Creek Trail: MP 1.25 to 2.9

IMG_8471Even though the House Creek Trail was completed only 2 years ago, the trail’s history dates back to 1973 when it was a mere 350ft unpaved foot path and the foundation of the Capital Area Greenway.  House Creek Trail is a north/south connection between Reedy Creek Trail (near Meredith College/Wade Ave) and Crabtree Creek Trail (near Crabtree Valley Mall).  Having explored all other parts of House Creek Trail, I was excited to visit this last stretch and get some more mileage in before the City of Oaks 10k back in November.

I parked in the residential area (Leonard St/Ridge Rd intersection) behind the Ridgewood Shopping Center and then walked on the sidewalk toward Wade Ave to start at the end of the trail, which is mile marker 2.9.  The trail parallels Wade Ave for awhile before heading straight uphill towards the NC Museum of Art.  Before crossing the 440-beltline pedestrian bridge, bare right at the House Creek Trail sign and proceed with caution down the steep hill.

IMG_8497This greenway parallels the eastern side of the 440-beltline until the pedestrian crossover at Glen Eden Rd.  Even though you can hear and see the 440-beltline traffic, with the expansive tree lines on both sides of the trail, I sometimes felt like I was miles away in middle earth.  Occasionally I passed other bikers and walkers, but for the most part on this chilly October morning it was just me and Claire.  Before coming to the Lake Boone Trail tunnel, we passed the small Horton St apartment complex and a designated greenway parking lot located behind Martin Middle School.  It was around this time (mile post 2.0) that I also spotted a random basketball pole and hoop in the nearby creek, making me question the history of this area.

Continuing on, we spent some more time going uphill and navigated through the tunnel underneath Lake Boone Trail.  There are huge rock piles and large drain pipes here to help with drainage since this is a rather hilly spot.  We continued on a bit further and came upon an information plaque highlighting the original House Creek Trail and more details of the history of the Capital Area Greenway.  This part of the trail is relatively flat, which was a comforting change (see my elevation change photo below) so we continued on until the tunnel at Glen Eden Rd (approx mile post 1.25) where we turned around.

Having explored all of House Creek Trail now, I can say that I enjoy the flatter stretch of the trail from Glen Eden Rd to Crabtree Valley Mall, even though this probably better prepared me for the hilly City of Oaks run!

More Resources:

Thumbs up: scenery, safety, wide trails

Thumbs down: beware of the hills

House Creek Trail Grand Opening

img_2710At the House Creek Trail dedication and grand opening ceremony yesterday, you really got a sense of the anticipation and excitement around this new trail.  Many guests spoke about the history of the greenway system, especially highlighting the fact that House Creek was Raleigh’s first pilot greenway trail back in the 1970s.  It was a short gravel path made possible by the Barefoot family, who was also in attendance at the grand opening.  Fast forward forty years and the addition of the new House Creek Trail brings the total greenway mileage up to 78!  At 2.9 miles long, the House Creek Trail is a vital north/south connection between Meredith College and the Crabtree area.

The grand opening took place inside Glen Eden Pilot Park.  After the ceremony we headed towards Crabtree Valley Mall on the newly paved path.  While on our way, we cruised by I-440 rush hour traffic in the distance, crossed bridges, noticed large land developments underway, and visited the Marshall Memorial Park.  Not aware of the Marshall Memorial Park, we stopped to take a look and a quick rest.  The park is a project funded by Rick Marshall, long-time Raleigh realtor, in honor of his father, Lt. Col. George F. Marshall.  Lt. Col. Marshall was killed in World War II while commanding troops during the British-American invasion of Oran, also known as Operation Torch.  The park is quietly located near the intersection with Blue Ridge Rd and contains a iron arbor and several stone seats and a wooden boardwalk, making it a good place to reflect and relax.

img_2712After passing the memorial park, we came to Blue Ridge Rd, which was rather busy around 5pm.  Several signs alert you of the busy two-lane highway, so we were able to cross with ease and continued to the corner across from the McDonalds.  In all it was a relatively easy .75 miles from Glen Eden Park to the McDonalds.  The mile markings begin near the McDonalds and display every .25 miles.

After arriving back to Glen Eden Park, we continued south on the House Creek Trail where we crossed under the Glen Eden Rd tunnel and kept on until the 1.5 mile marker.  The path is well landscaped throughout; natural grasses, plants and trees line most of the shady path with newly planted magnolias and other hardwoods throughout.  If you’re concerned about walking on the sidewalks of Glen Eden Dr or other areas that seem more dramatic from the beltway, don’t worry – this greenway trail has more railings and safety features than any other I’ve seen!  The stone wall along the tunnel slightly reminded me of Hokie Stone at VT!

Covering half of the new trail was a perfect end to a gorgeous fall day.  We passed so many bikers, joggers and walkers enjoying the new trail.  We’re excited to start at the southern end near Meredith College and work our way north next time.  Check out my previous post about House Creek Trail when it was under construction.

Thumbs up: landscaping, safety railings, signage, safety of the area, memorial park, connection created between Meredith College and Crabtree

Thumbs down: nothing to report

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