Running Raleigh: Falls of Neuse River Trail - Trail Review 1
I've decided to begin a series of running trail reviews. I have run most of the trails in Raleigh -- that I know of. But that's easy to say since Raleigh has an awesome network of trails that don't rely on public roads. They weave in and out of neighborhoods. Some are confusing. Some are hilly, Some are nice and easy.
I want to give each trail a ranking in five categories: Hills, Access to water, Crowds, Scenery and Ease of Use.
I'm beginning with one of my top three favorite trails to run.
The Falls of Neuse Trail has really helped me fall in love with this community -- at least this part of town anyway.
The Trail begins at the bottom of the Falls of Neuse dam, which helps create the Falls of Neuse Lake. Then the trail follows the river for -- God-only-knows how many miles. I'm kidding. It's a network of trails that stretch 28 miles from the dam to the Wake County line.
I've experienced between 8 and 10 miles of this trail.
I'd like to focus on one section of the trail.. since it's not likely that many runners will go more than 13 miles on any given run. So, that would be about 6 and a half miles down and back from the dam.
Hill Ranking: 4
(10 - the most extreme, a mountain)
This section has one hill that would challenge any level runner. Even some bikers get off and walk up this one hill. but for the most part the terrain is moderately hilly and even. I think you can thank it's proximity to the River for that.
Access to water: 2
(1 BYOW- Bring your own water)
For this section of the trail. Access to water is horrible. In my training for the Raleigh Rock n' Roll Half Marathon there was one day that I had to Run 9 or 10 miles. I ran this far on one of the first warm-- dare I say HOT days of the year. I did it without a water bottle and felt like I was going to fall out. I was seriously seconds from asking a stranger for a drink of water. I compensated by walking my way back to the car on that day. For the whole stretch of run... there was no water. I mean no water or water fountains. The only water fountain that I've been able to find was under the dam near the bathrooms. I guess I could have jumped in the river to cool off.
( 10 - might as well be at the mall)
There are days when it seems like there is a runner, biker, stroller or walker around every corner, ... but there are also good days. When its quiet there's no better trail in the triangle. You can pretty much tell what kind of day it's going to be by the parking lot traffic. But here's a tip. Run in the morning, close to sunset and avoid weekends and holidays. For the latter -- you might as well be on a parade float waving at everyone you pass.
Scenery : 8
(10 - I want to stop and take a picture around every corner)
One of my favorite places to take pictures -- in my head as I keep running past awesome photo shoot locations. Then I spend the next minute or so thinking about which model I could convince to walk two miles... or if I can park on the side of the road and walk to this location. I'll say this. This trail is awesome because it has so many connecting trails. I haven't investigated access to those just yet.
Ease of Use: 10
(1- I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque)
There is nothing to complain about with this trail. There are signs galore... mile markers, Street signs. You can't get lost if you just keep the River in sight.