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Here is a list of some of our favorite walking trails in the watershed and surrounding area.


The Rocks Nature Preserve

The Rocks features a nice, short loop trail that takes you around the property and gives great views of Ellerbe Creek. A second trail takes you down to the creek itself, allowing you to explore this rocky section of creek. The Rocks is accessible by foot and bike via the Stadium Drive Trail. A bike rack is located next to the preserve kiosk. A trail connects The Rocks to the Stadium Drive bicycle and walking trail via a public right-of-way access. The nearest parking to the preserve is located at Rock Quarry City Park. From there you may walk, run, or bike 0.6 miles along the Stadium Drive Trail. In 2018, the City of Durham will complete the West Ellerbe Creek Trail, which will extend from its existing location in Indian Trail Park and ECWA’s 17-Acre Wood Preserve to the Stadium Drive Trail nearby. This makes The Rocks a perfect stopping point for bikers or destination for walkers.

Beaver Marsh Trail

This trail was designed and developed to help create a more interactive experience for visitors at the Beaver Marsh. As you travel along the preserve trails, you will find 8 individual posts with signs on them. The signs point out different site topics and each will have a QR Code on it. The QR Code can be scanned using your mobile device, which will connect you directly to information related to the Beaver Marsh Preserve on various topics: Mammals; Amphibians/Reptiles; Birds; Insects; Native Plants; Stormwater Runoff; Wetlands; and, of course, ECWA’s organization.

17 Acre Wood Nature Preserve

The Association's first preserve, the 17-Acre Wood actually covers 20 acres of floodplain forest. Located in the Watts Hospital-Hillandale Neighborhood near NC School of Science and Math, the preserve extends from Albany St. to Maryland Ave, on both sides of the creek. The Preserve complements two city parks, Indian Trail Park and Westover Park, which border it at either end.

Since the initial purchase, in 2000, volunteers have transformed the Albany Street end of the preserve from an impenetrable thicket of invasive exotic plants into an oasis for people, wildlife, and native plant diversity. Educational signage and a kiosk aid self-guided tours. Represented plant communities include prairie remnant and wetland, in addition to the mature floodplain forest.

Glennstone Nature Preserve

Located just 15 minutes east of downtown Durham, Glennstone Nature Preserve borders Ellerbe Creek’s floodplain, land owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and managed by NC Wildlife Resources. Through this land the preserve is connected to the downstream Falls Lake State Recreation Area. Within the 83-acre Nature Preserve, nearly 3 miles of trail connect the Glennstone Neighborhood through new growth forest, past an old cabin site, and across rocky diabase feeder streams, to one of the most attractive and wilder parts of Ellerbe Creek.

A sewer line right of way extends westward from the property to the old city landfill. This is one potential route for a future regional trail that could run along the northwest edge of the preserve connecting the preserve to the city to the west and the Mountains To Sea Trail running along Falls Lake to the east.

Pearl Mill Nature Preserve

In 2006, the Duke Energy Corporation donated these 3 acres of urban nature to create ECWA's third preserve in Durham. Located along the East Branch of the South Ellerbe Creek, the Pearl Mill Nature Preserve is part of a corridor of wetlands and floodplain woods bounded by the Trinity Park, Old North Durham and Duke Park neighborhoods. It includes a portion of the popular South Ellerbe Creek Greenway Trail, just south of Green Street.

The property was named the Pearl Mill Preserve because of the old textile mill - Pearl Mill - that is nearby - just upstream, near the headwaters of the South Ellerbe. The mill has been converted to apartments and the old tall smokestack is visible from all around. There are mill houses just east of the creek. In short, the name reflects this history, and folks in the area still call the creek Pearl Mill creek.

Indian Trail Park

Coming Soon!

Watch this space for more details.

Durham Greenways and Trails

When it comes to hiking and running trails, Durham is rich with a variety of options. Eno River State Park and Little River Regional Park & Natural Area feature hiking and biking trails along winding rivers and hills. West Point on the Eno City Park includes a historic mill and farmhouse surrounded by trails with beautiful views of the Eno River. There are also urban pathways lined with nature preserves, trails through protected forests, and more.

American Tobacco Trail and North/South Greenway in Durham

The American Tobacco Trail is a 22+ mile rails-to-trails project located in the Triangle Region of North Carolina. The route crosses through the City of Durham; Durham, Chatham, and Wake counties; the planning jurisdictions of the Towns of Cary and Apex; and passes through the Lake Jordan project land of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Paving from Massey Chapel Road south to the Chatham County line was completed early in 2013 and the short section along Massey Chapel Rd. was completed in late November 2013. Sections north of Renaissance Parkway and connecting to the bridge were completed early in 2014. The bridge spanning I-40 had numerous delays on the protective fencing and opened on February 19th 2014.

Mountains-to-the-Sea Trail

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is North Carolina’s state hiking trail. It stretches 1175 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks, stopping at many of our state’s most beautiful places along the way. It is as diverse as North Carolina. Along the trail, you may see mountain vistas, rolling Piedmont farms, picture postcard colonial towns, weathered tobacco barns, old textile villages, country churches, rushing mountain streams, coastal swamps, hardwood and pine forests, lighthouses, sand dunes, miles of seashore, and friendly people. 680 miles of the route are on trail, and connecting backroads and an optional paddle route allow hikers to trek across the state.

North Carolina State Parks

With hundreds of miles of trails, North Carolina state parks have something for everyone - hiking, biking, and equestrian trails as well as handicap-accessible trails. Trail networks offer easy to advanced hikes. Discovery/Track trails found in many parks are specifically designed for a young person's exploration with learning activities—such as a scavenger hunt—along the route. It's a great family activity.

Pick up a trail map at the park office or print one ahead of time — maps are available on each park's webpage.