Category Archives: Parks

Sunflower Fields in Bloom along the Neuse Greenway ~ Summer 2016

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This past weekend I ventured out on the Neuse Greenway to see if the sunflowers had started to bloom along the lower portion of the trail near the Wake / Johnston County boarder. To get to the fields I parked my car at the the parking lot along Mial Plantation Road, which is a little past mile 26.25 on the trail. I then ran about 2.5 miles to mile marker 23.75 which is where the fields are located. If you don’t want to run or bike there you can pull off the road along Brown Field Road and sneak a peek at the field (to drive there GPS 2600 Brown Field Road – map).

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The fields are beautiful but they do look a little smaller than last year, and I think the sunflowers are a shorter variety. I noticed many of them still have yet to bloom. I suspect they will be in full bloom within the next two weeks so try to get out there by July 10th – after that they will start dying off from the summer heat.

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Many don’t realize this, but these fields are actually owned by the City of Raleigh and are used to land apply treated wastewater. The plants are grown on the fields to take up the nutrients from the wastewater, which basically acts like a fertilizer for the flowers. Because it is City of Raleigh property you’ll need to enjoy the view of the field from behind the white fences that line the fields.To learn more about the Neuse Greenway and download a full map of the trail visit the Neuse Greenway website here.

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A Visit to Historic Yates Mill Park in Raleigh!

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Yates Mills Park ~ Raleigh, NC

Yates Mill Park is one of my favorite places to visit in Raleigh each fall. I’ve made it a yearly tradition to walk through the park each November before Thanksgiving to take in the fall foliage before the colder winter weather arrives. The park is located park that is located about 2 miles south of Tryon Road along Lake  Wheeler Road. It is 174 acres and is home to a  20 acre pond, a wildlife refuge, environmental research center, and the only remaining working gristmill in Wake County which has been in operation since around 1756!

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Yates Mill

Of course the highlight of the park is Yates Mill. It is the only remaining water-powered gristmill left in Wake County. The Mill is open for guided tours by appointment and during specific dates from March through November. They also hold corn grinding demonstrations with people dressed in period clothes on the third weekend of each month during the tour season. Reservations are encouraged and a small fee applies. See the park website for additional tour details and information.

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Walking Trail

While the mill is the main attraction, I also enjoy taking a stroll around the pond on the nature walking trail. It provides great views of the pond with the mill in the background and you are surrounded by a multitude of vibrant leaf colors from the numerous trees along the trail. I typically head over to the park two or three weeks before Thanksgiving. The leaves are in perfect color right about now and it is nice to enjoy them while it is still somewhat warm! I haven’t taken the tour of the mill yet, but I discovered you can stop by the park visitor center where stone-ground cornmeal made at the mill is available for purchase everyday.

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Visitor Center

The mill pond and surrounding natural area makes for great photo opportunities and is a favorite location for wedding pictures and family. It is important to note that the park has several rules to be aware of. In particular no pets (other than service animals) are allowed in the park and the trails are for walking, bikes are also not allowed.

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Boardwalk over Yates Pond

In addition to the mill and walking trails through the woods there are also a few boardwalks incorporated into the trails that provide access across sections of the pond. These boardwalks serve as great spots to do a little fishing with kids.

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Undated photo of the Mill – courtesy of Wake County Parks Dept.

Fall visits to Yates Mill Park have become an annual tradition for me and my wife. Later this month I’ll share some additional Triangle locations we enjoy visiting each year as the holidays approach! You can learn more about the long history of Yates Mill here on wikipedia.

Yates Mill Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC 27603 (Map)
Open 7 days per week, 8 am to sunset.

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North Wake Landfill Park in North Raleigh – An Unexpected Green Space

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Top of the Hill Trail

As I prepare to run in my first marathon this fall I find myself constantly looking for new places to avoid getting bored using the same old route. Since the race I am running, the City of Oaks Marathon, is right here in Raleigh it is also important that I incorporate some hill work into my routine so I am ready for of the topography on race day. Fortunately I live just down the road from the relatively new North Wake Landfill Park located off Durant Road in North Raleigh which provides a short hill perfect for hill training

View from the Top

As the name implies this the North Wake Landfill District Park is in built on top of a now closed landfill. The landfill was capped a few years ago and is now used as a park with fantastic open green space with a small playground, walking and mountain biking trails, picnic shelter, and great views from the the top of the “Big Hill”.

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Park Map

I pulled the map above from the park’s official website. It shows the location of the trails, parking and various recreational areas. It is a small park, but I find it to be a great place to do short runs and work on hill repeats. If you are looking for longer runs you can take one of the trails that connects to the the much longer Neuse Greenway trail that stretches on for miles

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Top of the Hill Trail

I need to give a “tip of the hat” to the River Run Club for the idea of using this park for “hill repeat” runs.  This place is so convient to my neck of the woods and the hill is challenging but not impossible so it makes for a good training spot. The “Top of the Hill Trail”  is only .07 miles long with an elevation climbing to 469 feet above sea level. Once up top you your efforts are rewarded with a nice view of the surrounding area including downtown Raleigh. I enjoy running up and down 5-6 times then doing a quick loop around the park.

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Another View from the Top

The park is open from dawn to dusk. Signs currently posted at the entrance indicate exactly what time the gates will close at night. Right now the park is ope from 8am to 9pm. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are looking for a new place to run, walk, or just get some nice views from the hill. Park brochure with addition information.

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Explore the Upper Neuse Greenway Trail in Raleigh!

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Entrance To The Greenway From The Bedford Community

The Upper Neuse Greenway Trail has been open for about 6 months now and is one of my favorite places to go for a jog. It is a real hidden gem for outdoor enthusiast in North Raleigh and a great addition to the Capital Area Greenway System. The next time you get the urge for a stroll outside I strongly encourage you to check out this trail! It is very scenic and offers nice vies of the river.

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One Of The Wooden Bridges On The Greenway

Work on the Upper Neuse Greenway began January 18, 2010 with the trail officially opening back on November 9, 2011. This latest portion of the Raleigh greenway system begins at Falls Dam and run along the Neuse River for approximately 8.0 miles, ending at the WRAL Soccer Complex off Perry Creek Road.

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Biking And Jogging Is Allowed On The Greenway

The Surface of the greenway is 10’ wide asphalt path with 10’ wide raised boardwalks in sensitive areas like wetlands. The main entrance area to the greenway, complete with public parking, is located off Falls of Neuse Road just south of the Falls Dam. There are also trial connections located in both Bedford and Falls River neighborhoods providing easy access to the trial.

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CSX Railroad Underpass

There are seven bridges and seven boardwalk sections along the this portion of the trail. In addition, the trail passes under Falls of Neuse Road, New Falls of Neuse Road, and Capital Boulevard, resulting in no road conflicts along route. The trail is fairly flat with only a few slight inclines along the route making it great for running and as you can see from the pictures it is quite sceneic. Check it out.

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View Of Neuse River From The Greenway Trail

More Info on the Captial Area Greenway System (with maps): http://www.raleighnc.gov/arts/content/PRecDesignDevelop/Articles/CapitalAreaGreenwayTrailSystem.html

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Get Outside & Visit The E. Carroll Joyner Park in Wake Forest

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On Saturday my wife and I visited the E. Carroll Joyner Park in Wake Forest. This is the town’s newest park located at 701 Harris Road, approximately 1 mile off of Capital Boulevard. The park covers 117 acres and is being built out over several phases. Phase I of the park was completed in late July 2009 and opened to the public in August 2009.

The park features three miles of paved walking trails that wind around the open fields providing views of restored farm buildings, groves of pecan trees. Leashed dogs are allowed at the park as are bikes on the trails. While we were there we saw several people biking and walking even though it was kind of chilly. I imagine this will be a very popular destination once the weather warms up. There is also a 1,000-lawn-seat amphitheatre at the park that will serve as the new home of Wake Forest’s Six Sundays in spring concert series in 2010.

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As I mentioned above, much of the park is made up of open meadows making it a great place to fly a kite or throw a frisbee around. There is also a unique looking “stacked” stone wall that bends around portions of the trail along the road near the park entrance and a garden area adjacent to the amphitheater. I am looking forward to going back to the park in the spring when the area greens up and the garden is in full bloom.

If you want to make an afternoon out of your trip to Wake Forest, when you leave the park you can take a short but picturesque drive through the Wake Forest historic district on N. Main Street as you head towards downtown Wake Forest to check out the farmer’s market , whish is open on Saturday mornings in the spring and summer from 8-12, or swing by the Wake Forest Coffee Company on White Street.

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For more information about the E. Carroll Joyner Park check out the town of Wake Forest’s parks website. You can view more pictures from my trip to the park in my flickr photo album.

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