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Southpoint Crossing to Downtown Durham
Overview: The section leading to downtown Durham is the most developed part of the American Tobacco Trail. It offers the unique experience of an urban rail trail set amongst greenery from start to finish. Visitors will come across several shopping centers, businesses, and the occasional busy intersection as they travel down the 6-mile paved trail. Users can escape the pressures of modern life and enjoy safe and quality leisure time without going far from home.
Trail Information: Southpoint Crossing to Downtown Durham is the newest and most developed part of the trail. The starting point at Southpoint Crossing is next to a large shopping center with ample parking. Businesses in this shopping center include Quiznos, Bull City Running Company, Kroger supermarket and many other retail outlets. The trail is six miles long with quarter mile markers and features wide, paved path suitable for cyclists and walkers. Interstate 40 separates this side from the other fifteen miles of rail trail, though work is planned to link these trails with a bridge over I-40 at Fayetteville Road for cyclists and pedestrians. By July 2013 construction will make the trail continuous for over twenty-two miles, making it by far the longest rail-trail in North Carolina. Even with the split, you will still see a high volume of people running, walking, biking or walking their dogs. The urban rail trail has busier intersections and a moderately noisy environment. Trashcans and dog waste stations are located at one-mile intervals along the trail. The trail features many shaded sections. However, it’s important to come prepared for warm weather in the summertime. Be sure to have plenty of sunscreen, water, and protective clothing on hand to make your time on the trail that much more safe and comfortable.
If you are looking for other activities to do while on the trail, the trailheads are home to several restaurants and retail establishments. Around the Fayetteville Road starting point is Southpoint Crossing and Sutton Station. The other end of the American Tobacco Trail at Downtown Durham offer a number of city attractions, including the Durham Performing Arts Center, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and the American Tobacco Campus, which features a number of restaurants and bars. Also located in the American Tobacco Campus is a YMCA of the Triangle directly in front of the Morehead Avenue trail exit. Members of any YMCA of the Triangle can access this contemporary downtown site. If you need to rest and recover, try stopping at Solite Park; 1.75 miles from Southpoint Crossing, you will find restrooms, a playground, coal-fired grills, a 400-meter track, volleyball courts and basketball courts. You can also stop at Shady Oaks Park around the 2.5 mile mark. It has many of the same amenities found at Solite Park, plus tennis courts and a water fountain. Trail users may like to unwind on one of the many benches located at half-mile intervals.
Parking and Directions: Parking is available at the following shopping centers:
Southpoint Crossing (202 W. NC Highway 54 Suite 201, Durham, NC 27713) is a popular parking option. To get there from Chapel Hill go east on 54, then make a left onto Fayetteville Road and you will see a sign for Southpoint Crossing. The trail entrance is just past a small parking lot on the right when you enter Southpoint Crossing from Fayetteville Road. Ask the friendly folks at Bull City Running Company if you have trouble finding the trailhead.
Solite Park (4704 Fayetteville Road, Durham, NC 27713) is located about one and a half miles from the trailhead, is another option for parking. The parking lot entrance is across from the intersection of Fayetteville Road and Belgreen Road.
Elmira Park (540 Elmira Avenue, Durham, NC 27707) is located two and a half miles from Downtown Durham. If you are on Fayetteville Road, travel away from Highway 54, make a right onto Elmira Avenue and the park is on your right.
At the far end of this section is Downtown Durham, which offers free, two-hour street parking and ample public parking in the South Parking Deck next to the American Tobacco Campus for $4 per car. To get there from Chapel Hill, follow Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard for five miles. Turn left onto University Drive and stay on there for 1.5 miles, and then turn left onto Blackwell Street. You’ll soon see the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on the right and the American Tobacco Campus on the left.
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