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Discover the Best Hiking Trails in Raleigh-Durham

Discover the Best Hiking Trails in Raleigh-Durham

If you find yourself in the Raleigh-Durham area, you're in luck, especially if you're a nature enthusiast. The region is home to a plethora of hiking trails that cater to all levels of hikers, from the novices to the seasoned trail veterans. Let's take a closer look at some of the best hiking trails that the Raleigh-Durham area has to offer, along with their difficulty levels, estimated completion times, and distances:

Umstead State Park

Location: Raleigh

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 1.5 to 4 hours
  • Distance: Varies between 0.8 to 6.2 miles depending on the trail

Nestled in the heart of Raleigh, Umstead State Park is a haven for hikers. The park offers a rich network of trails that meander through enchanting forests and alongside picturesque lakes. Whether you opt for the popular Company Mill Trail or the Sycamore Trail, you're in for a moderate hike with scenic vistas that will take your breath away.

Eno River State Park

Location: Durham

  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 1 to 3 hours
  • Distance: Trails range from 0.2 to 4.3 miles

Eno River State Park is a true gem located in Durham. The park boasts a variety of trails that guide you along the serene Eno River, offering a visual feast of beautiful views complemented by a rich diversity of flora and fauna. The Cox Mountain Trail stands out as a popular choice, presenting a moderate challenge with a series of elevation changes that add a dash of adventure to your hike.

Falls Lake Trail

Location: Wake Forest (near Raleigh-Durham)

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 2 to 5 hours
  • Distance: Trails range from .6 to 7.3 miles (part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail)

Part of the iconic Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the Falls Lake Trail offers a scenic route that hugs the shores of the beautiful Falls Lake. It's a paradise for bird watchers and those looking to enjoy tranquil lake views during their hike.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Location: Durham

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Estimated Time: 1 to 2 hours
  • Distance: Up to 5 miles of walking paths

While not a traditional hiking trail, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens offer a delightful walk through well-maintained paths that wind through themed gardens. From the Culinary Garden to the Doris Duke Center Gardens, it's a leisurely walk that promises a feast for your eyes.

Neuse River Trail

Location: Raleigh

  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 1 to 4 hours
  • Distance: 27.5 miles

The Neuse River Trail is a hiker's dream, offering a long, paved trail that follows the graceful Neuse River. It's a trail that promises beautiful river views and a chance to immerse yourself in the natural beauty surrounding the area, making it a great choice for both hiking and biking.

American Tobacco Trail

Location: Durham

  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 1 to 5 hours
  • Distance: 22.6 miles

Stretching over 22.6 miles, the American Tobacco Trail traverses through a diverse landscape including urban, suburban, and rural areas. It's a multi-use trail that welcomes hikers, cyclists, and even horseback riders in certain sections, offering a diverse hiking experience.

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

Location: Apex (a short drive from Raleigh-Durham)

  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Estimated Time: 2 to 5 hours
  • Distance: Trails range from 0.5 to 5.4 miles

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area is a hotspot for hikers, offering a range of trails that provide stunning views of Jordan Lake. The New Hope Overlook Trail is a highlight, offering hikes that range from moderate to difficult, all while providing breathtaking views of the lake.

Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

Location: Hillsborough (near Durham)

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 1.5 to 3 hours
  • Distance: Trails range from 0.2 to 2.2 miles

For those looking to elevate their hiking experience, the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area offers trails that lead to the summit, providing panoramic views of the Eno River and downtown Hillsborough, a sight to behold especially during the sunset.


The Raleigh-Durham area is a treasure trove for hiking enthusiasts, offering a rich variety of trails that promise not just a good workout, but a chance to reconnect with nature. Before you head out, remember to check the current status of the trails online for any updates on conditions or closures. Happy hiking!



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