Deep River Rail Trail


The Deep River Rail Trail is an out-of-the-way gem of a trail. The trail is crushed granite screenings and at first glance it appears quite short, just a few hundred yards or so to the right. However, explore a bit further to the left, going by the water treatment facility, and you will find that the trail continues along the banks of the Deep River for quite a ways. The trail is cool and shady, thanks to the wide variety of trees. Sitting in the middle of the countryside, this rail trail provides a quiet and private experience. A Deep River Rail-Trail Steering Committee, including North Carolina Rail-Trails, and local volunteers have made a number of improvements to the trail, and work is under way for further improvements, including a bridge over Sandy Creek and linkage to the old boat landing on US Hwy. 64, completion of Phase 2 linking Riverside Park in Franklinville to the currently opened section, canoe access points on the river banks, and labels to identify trees. River banks, grass lands, hills and depressions make up the landscape. There is a wide variety of animals, trees, and river access to entertain walkers of all ages at the Deep River Rail-Trail. Please see our Deep River Concept Brochure and the Deep River State Map for more on the area.

Trail Information

Biodiversity is high in this part of Franklinville, while the local human population is quite low. As you approach the trail you pass by many undeveloped and unsold lots. A seemingly abandoned community center sits in the middle of the slowly developing area. This uninhabited nature transfers over to the trail. Though the trail has been embraced by the community, is it still possible to feel like you have part or the entire trail to yourself. This quiet trail is perfect for family outings, walking the dog and fishing. The best fishing spots can be found along one of the many pathways branching off from the Deep River Rail-Trail. Look for the “Ancient Fish Weir” sign and follow the path to a spacious river bank sitting at water level. If you are not on the trail to access the river, try out other activities such as running, biking, walking and hiking. It is fairly easy to hike the hilly landscape or climb the large rocks scattered around the trail. The hills around the trail are gentle and neither too high nor too steep. However, most of the river banks are about ten feet above the Deep River and quite steep, so you’ll want to keep an eye on children and pets in those areas. The river itself alternates between a fast clip and a lazy pace, with large rocks affecting the river’s speed throughout.

The river is viewable from most parts of the Deep River Rail Trail. The best view comes from a secondary grassed trail that parallels the Deep River Rail Trail. To find this somewhat hard-to-find trail, look for a sign labeled Deep River Rail Trail, which marks the official start of the trail, and points in two directions. When standing at the starting point of the trail, you can see the gated end (West end) from the start of the trail, but not the other end. The secondary trail is to the left of the gated end. Please note that bumpy terrain makes it harder to run and bike on the secondary trail. At the end of this secondary trail is Deep River Fabricators, Inc., a manufacturer of outdoor and indoor cushions. The opposite end of the main trail features a similar, extensive dirt trail. A sign marked Unimproved Trail Extension points you to it. Following this trail will bring you to the underside of US Hwy 64. Before bearing right towards the Unimproved Trail Extension, there is a scenic view over a large forest with a swamp set in the middle of it.

Parking and Directions

Parking is available at the beginning of the paved pathway leading to the Deep River Rail Trail.

From Chapel Hill, take US-15/US-501 South. Turn right to merge onto US-64 W toward Siler City, following this road for just under 30 miles. Make a slight right onto NC Highway 22 North. After just over a mile, turn left onto Rising Sun Way. Connected to the parking lot is a paved road that takes you to the trail. Please note: while the rail-trail itself is flat, the access trail leading from the parking lot to the rail-trail is on a hill and is quite steep in places.

View Area Attractions.


photos courtesy of Nancy Pierce