North Wake Landfill District Park


A playground at the landfill…say what?!  Yes, the North Wake landfill closed in 2008 and local residents worked with the county to repurpose the closed landfill into a park which now features paved trails, mountain biking trails, a large playground area, pavilion, and access to Abbotts Creek Trail (part of Neuse River Greenway).  North Wake Landfill District Park is located at 9300 Deponie Drive off Durant Rd in north Raleigh.  When you first turn off from Durant Rd, it’ll feel like the landfill is still open because you have to wind through some of the old parts of the dump, but follow the signs for the park.

We spent most of our time exploring the playground area and paved trails that access the nearby greenway. While the playground area has many unique features, I strongly disliked the layout where it is adjacent to a steep hill that my adventurous 3-year old decided to conquer at great speeds, despite strict instruction NOT to do so. So, after recovering from a near heart attack when she sprinted down the steep hill (and received a short timeout) we had a nice time exploring the play areas.

The playground has two areas – one for ages 2-5 and one for ages 5-12. In my opinion this park is definitely more of a “big kid” park. The younger playground area has several climbing structures that are more appropriate for an older and more confident 2-year old. It also has a few slides, two tot swings, and a music feature but it’s a taller playground with little room for playing on.

img_5596The bigger kid playground is any young climber’s dream.  There are huge spider web ropes that connect to the playground along with a sideways rock wall.  The playground also has several monkey bars, slides, twisty ladders, climbing stepping stones and more!

Both playground areas are covered in a thick wood chip surface and are adjacent to several picnic tables, the public restrooms and water fountains.  Also nearby is the large Sycamore pavilion with seating for up to 100, according to the Wake County website.

Descend along the paved trail from the playground to reach access to the western side of Abbotts Creek Trail.  Inside the park there are also several mountain biking trails, a mountain biking skills area, and paved walking trails.  I’d like to come back and walk or bike the short Top of the Hill trail, which takes you 469ft above sea level for great views of the surrounding area.  There is little shade at this park, so plan accordingly!

For more information about this park, visit the Wake County Parks website.  I found the park brochure with map to be very helpful.

Thumbs up: repurposing a landfill into a useable recreation space, variety of climbing activities for older kids, proximity and plethora of picnic areas

Thumbs down: steep hill near playground area, lack of park map inside park (didn’t know about most of the walking or bike trails until going online after getting home)

Grandfather Mountain Profile Trail

img_1603Oh, boy!  It’s been a few weeks since I last posted about our trip to Grandfather Mountain: partly because I’ve been busy with other things, but mostly because I’m still wrapping my head around conquering the Profile Trail and Calloway Peak.  Yes, I used the word “conquered” when describing this hike.

On day 2 of our trip to Western NC, we headed with a few friends to the Profile Trail of Grandfather Mountain.  It’s located just a few miles west of the Grandfather Mountain campground we stayed at and is free to visit, unlike the other entrances to Grandfather Mountain and the Swinging Bridge.

The trail length from NC 105 to the top at Calloway Peak is about 3.5 miles and 2000 ft ascent.  We had Ashley in our new Craigslist Kelty backpack for the trip so it took us about 4.5 hours to do the 7 mile round trip.  The first 1.7 miles until you get to Foscoe View is steep, but relatively easy.  In the beginning you cross several streams, which are great for a cool dip.  The trail is very narrow with lots of roots along the surface so you have to constantly be aware of your footing.

img_1621At 2.3 miles you reach Profile View, which offers a spectacular view of the Grandfather Profile. After you pass Profile View, the terrain gets much steeper and harder to ascend.  At 2.7 miles you reach Shanty Spring, which is known for being the “last sure water” spot.  We refilled here on the way back down the mountain as we did not come prepared with enough water.  Shanty Spring is a great rest area offering a lot of shade and a cool drink before ascending the strenuous path of boulders, which lies next.

The boulders we climbed after Shanty Spring were unlike any we’ve climbed before.  Having short legs didn’t help but, nonetheless, even a 6ft tall person would have to raise their legs to their waist to climb these boulders.  It felt like a straight climb for a solid 20 minutes and it was hard to stop your momentum once you started.

Finally we reached the fork in the trail and headed left towards Calloway Peak.  On the way down the mountain half our group headed right to cross the Mile High Swinging Bridge, which they said was unbelievable!  But, back at the fork in the trail we still had another .4 miles to go to reach the top!  Finally, this part of the trail started to level out and we felt like we were getting closer to the end.  The fir trees were smaller in height and we could see the sky!  Our first stop was at Watauga View, which offers beautiful views of the mountains and valleys.

img_1644Continuing on, we headed to Calloway Peak, which includes climbing three different ladders suspended between large boulders.  It was unlike anything we’d climbed before, but so were the views at the top: the sky was so blue, the mountains so green and you could see for miles.

The hike down was much quicker than the hike up, but took a toll on our knees.  Having a 24lb baby and a 10lb pack didn’t help, but she was an angel for the full 7 miles and even took a quick nap at the top.  Lucky for us, we were hiking with great friends who encouraged us the entire time (had they not been there, we probably would’ve turned around at Foscoe View)!  Reaching the parking lot was relieving, to say the least!  Reaching the Lowe’s Food grocery store and celebrating with corked beverages and grilled double cheeseburgers was priceless!

Lessons Learned: pack at least 3 bottles of water per person, eat a large breakfast beforehand, pack sandwiches for lunch, hire a sherpa for baby

Thumbs Up: beautiful views, photo ops, great exercise, great day trip

Thumbs Down: hiking with baby strapped to your back, always looking down to avoid tripping