Neuse River Greenway offers 28 miles of trails

A few days after Thanksgiving, I was feeling the effects of all that delicious turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie my husband helped me cook, and talked him into exploring a new greenway trail heading out of Wake Forest. I had seen the sign for Horseshoe Farm Nature Park while taking a detour on Ligon Mill Road to Highway 401, and noticed the walking trail when I took a brief detour through the parking area.

The trail leading from Horseshoe Farm is paved, and is part of the Neuse River Greenway Trail. We had hiked part of the trail leading from Falls Lake Dam a few years ago. It was a pretty stretch of greenway, fairly flat (at least the two miles or so we walked), and runs parallel to the Neuse River. I remember seeing a sign that indicated if we kept walking we would end up in Johnston County (about an hour’s drive from Wake Forest.) Life intervened, and we hadn’t made it back.

We took our first foray onto the Horseshoe Farm section of trail way a few weeks ago, but it was chilly that day, and had started to rain, so we headed back to the parking lot after about 30 minutes.

This time, though, the temperature was mild, the sun was shining, and I was feeling adventurous. My husband, who spent years working on a farm, can walk seemingly forever, but so far, I’ve only managed to complete a “three-hour tour.” (If you get that reference, we’re both showing our age.)

One of the many bridges on this section of the Neuse River Greenway.

The greenway from Horseshoe Park starts off downhill, and incorporates a number of bridges to allow walkers and cyclists the opportunity to bypass the marshy areas that surround this section of river. We were passed, there and back, by upwards of 30 cyclists, which, in my humble opinion, is really the way to go if you want to make a serious dent in the mileage along the Neuse River Greenway.

The entire greenway incorporates almost 28 miles of paved trails, beginning at Falls Lake Dam on Falls of Neuse Road, through Wake County, and down into Johnston County. The greenway connects Wake Forest, Knightdale, Raleigh (all in Wake County), and Johnston County.

Hikers or cyclists on the greenway can stay local, or explore additional trails across the state which connect the Outer Banks to the Great Smokey Mountains (Mountains-to-Sea Trail). The Neuse River Trail is also part of the Capital Area Greenway System.

I conquered about 2 ¼ miles on the trail heading away from Horseshoe Park this last time, which meant I had another 2 ¼ miles to go to get back to the car. My husband walked a little bit farther, while I rested on a flat rock, which I was, at this point, very happy to see.

This rock served as a good resting place about two miles after leaving Horseshoe Farm Nature Park.

According to the City of Raleigh website, if we had continued, we would have made it to the Buffaloe Road Athletic Park, but it would have required about two more miles of walking (four, if you count the way back). “I think you can do it,” my husband says. Maybe. But not without more practice, and a large amount of fortification. I’ll have to see if any of those trail maps that follow the river lead to civilization, preferably near a Cook-Out restaurant.