American Tobacco Trail Offers Miles of Riding for Equestrians
Required disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post; I was hired to take photos for Wake County parks and I am documenting some of those experiences.
The American Tobacco Trail, a 23-mile rails-to-trails project that runs through Wake, Durham, and Chatham counties, offers 4.7 miles of compacted gravel along the Wake County section where horses and riders can enjoy the wooded trail. On two afternoons recently I met up with equestrians to explore the trail and its features.
Parking lots at New Hill-Olive Chapel and White Oak Church have space for horse trailers and signs are posted for bicyclists and pedestrians to yield to horse riders. Mounting blocks and benches along the trail are available for riders, and regular volunteer-led manure clean-up days ensure the trail is kept clear for all users.
Horse riders may share the trail with a variety of other users and will come across trail features such as wooden bridges over creeks, road crossings, and even a tunnel under Highway 64. It's a unique experience walking through a concrete tunnel with the clatter of horse hooves behind you. The noise reverberates off the concrete walls so that you can feel the hoofbeats coming at you from every direction and four hooves sound like a hundred. It's no wonder the signs ask that horses be allowed to exit the tunnel before others enter.
Those 4.7 miles of trail are a beautiful way to spend a fall afternoon when the sun slants gold through the trees and the the cool autumn air whispers "come run with me" as it chases you with a swirl of dry leaves. Even if you're not an equestrian it's a good way to explore Wake County for a day.