Capital Area Greenways – Raleigh, NC

Derek Long


Just about every city and town of any size have started building greenways and walking trails which makes getting out and getting some exercise accessible and easy. 

In North Carolina, Raleigh’s Capital Area Greenway is one of the state’s largest urban trail systems.

Lisa Potts, the city's Sr. Greenway Planner  says, “Greenways serve the purpose of protection of open space, and also serve as a way to introduce, recreational opportunities, specifically a greenway trail is a ten foot wide asphalt trail that’s used mainly for recreational purposes, biking, hiking, jogging, and provides opportunities for people to get out and enjoy nature.

Raleigh’s Capital Area Greenways encompasses 28 individual trails into a system totaling over a hundred miles.

“One of our goals of the system,” says Potts, “is to have an interconnected system that can reach all areas across the city. It also serves as a means of transportation to get from one area of the city to the other providing city dwellers and visitors a way to navigate throughout the city of Raleigh.”

The systems longest individual section is the Neuse river trail at 28 miles, starting at Falls Lake and continuing along the Neuse river to Clayton where, adds Potts, “it also connects to other jurisdictions including Knightdale and Wake Forest's Greenway system, which adds length to that system and which reaches out to the broader Triangle area.”

The individual trails within the system connect neighborhoods and people to parks, museums and other cultural resources as well as to the heart of downtown Raleigh.

When using the trails no matter what your mode of transportation, remember basic trail etiquette says Potts, “staying on the right and letting people pass on the left, and giving a warning that you are coming up behind users to let them know that you'll be passing.  That is a common issue that we have in user conflicts on the greenway.  So we do encourage folks to give an audible sound when passing and to always stay on the right side of the trail.”

Trail volunteers as well as Raleigh police patrol the trails, and city maintenance staff strives to keep them safe and user friendly for everyone.  “We always encourage people to use the buddy system when using the trail, adds Potts, and you know, just use common sense.”   

Greenways are beneficial to communities in other ways says Potts, “Companies and people are looking to relocate to areas such as Raleigh that have this extensive park and greenway system because of the multiple benefits and quality of life that it provides.  So there's an economic component to cities and towns for providing that amenity.”

The Greenways are a contributing reason for Raleigh receiving a Fit Community designation by the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund in 2010.

“Because of our interconnection of trails, says Potts, “people have access right from their front door steps to get onto a trail and to be able to get on that trail and walk or ride a bike, jog for long distances.  If you're not interested in long distance, you know, there are opportunities just to get out for a short walk in the evening or the morning.  People seem to be happier when they’re out, you know, in nature. And greenways are a great opportunity to get people out into nature and active.  And,” she adds,  “they're free.”

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