Play Local · Uncategorized

21 Days Outdoors – My Favorite Sections of the ATT

Conventional wisdom advises that habits are ingrained after 21 days of repetition. If that theory holds true, then the eat~play~shop local habit requires time and effort to develop. Each month I’ll share “21 Days” of some event, place or organization in the Triangle, enabling (and I mean that in the most positive sense possible) your inner Localista to come out and join us. This month it’s all about the great outdoors in the Triangle – parks, trails and green spaces under blue skies. So brush up on your trail etiquette, lace up those shoes, slather on the sunscreen and join us for some fresh air and fun times. 

When the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) pedestrian bridge over interstate 40 finally opened earlier this year, Durham residents began putting it to good use (well, actually I think they were using it a little before the “official” opening). When I decided to venture out on the trail, I discovered that I could pick up the trail just behind the Homestead Market shopping area where my favorite South Durham coffee shop, Bean Traders, can be found. Then upon further inspection I found the trail seemed to cross Renaissance Parkway very near another South Durham foodie favorite, Rise Biscuits and Donuts. A little bell went off just then and I had to test my “Bean to Biscuit Trail” theory. 

Starting near the intersection of Highway 54 and Highgate Drive, I picked up the ATT, crossed I-40 using the bridge, followed the trail behind Southpoint and when I reached Renaissance Parkway took a right turn (leaving the trail at this point) towards Rise. The section of trail between Bean Traders and Rise is just about 2.5 miles, round trip and you can start at either point. I like to start at Bean Traders, walk to Rise and pick up a biscuit, before heading back along the same path to Bean Traders for a coffee beverage. Then it’s time to sit down for a bit and enjoy taste treats from each restaurant.

Coffee & biscuit

The ATT stretches several miles south into Chatham and Wake Counties, where it’s decidedly less suburban. The southern most access point is via the New Hill-Olive Chapel Road parking area in Apex. It’s a short stroll from the gravel parking lot to pick up the trail head. Once you reach the mile “0” marker the wide, flat, tree lined trail beckons further exploration. This section of the trail is a favorite because of the varied ecosystems. If you’re looking, you’ll find interesting flora lining the trail edges and might spot a deer grazing in clear cut sections. Where the trail crosses Beaver Creek, the view from the bridge reveals thick stands of cattails at the water’s edge. Along those wetlands, stop to listen to what sounds like hundreds of amphibians joyfully croaking and chirping. Their chorus is delightful. When you’re done enjoying the nature, then you can get to that workout. 

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