A Solution for Trails in RDU Forest

Recreational Trails in the Heart of the Triangle

First, a huge thank you to all of you, whose letters, emails, signing of petitions, and positive conversations on social media and in person are helping to save these recreational areas. We’d like to tell you about an exciting solution that is taking shape. One where multiple partners are working together to make this a reality. There are significant hurdles still to overcome, but we wanted to paint a picture for you of the solution we are advocating for.

Wake County, The Conservation Fund, and NC State Parks are collaborating to create more recreational singletrack trails in the heart of the Triangle on 3 adjoining land tracts:

solution map

Tract A - The Conservation Fund has offered to purchase this tract from RDU, permanently preserving it, as an addition to Umstead State Park. State Parks intends to continue allowing multi-use singletrack bike/ped trails on this land. This tract has long been on State Parks “Critical Acquisition List” for natural resource conservation and recreation. While RDU has offered to lease this tract (parcel 1 here), we advocate instead for a sale to provide a permanent solution. If not preserved for recreation, the most likely alternative for this tract is as a new quarry pit.

Tract B - Recognizing the demand for recreation in this area, Wake County leadership commissioned a study to examine opportunities in the Old Reedy Creek Rd. corridor. They are now working towards a long term lease (decades) arrangement with RDU to preserve tract B as an extension to Lake Crabtree County Park. This is parcels 2 and 3 in the RDU lease RFP.

Tract C - This tract is part of Umstead State Park. State Parks will participate in this solution by allowing new multi-use singletrack bike/ped trails to be built in this portion of the park. Umstead State Park has seen explosive usage growth (38% year over year in 2016). By opening up this portion of the park in conjunction with trails on Tracts A and B, this helps provide the expanded singletrack trails needed for a destination level trail system. Due to Umstead State Park’s primary mission to preserve natural resources and its need to avoid conflict with its current popular trails, adding new singletrack bike/ped trail in Umstead State Park only makes sense if they are a part of our larger solution.

Together, this solution accomplishes several key goals:

  1. It provides much needed multi-use singletrack bike/ped recreational trails in one of the busiest areas of the Triangle.
  2. Combined with existing trails in Lake Crabtree Park, it collectively creates a “destination class”, centrally located recreational attraction for the area.
  3. It preserves the natural character of the Old Reedy Creek Rd. corridor.
  4. It better aligns with the extensive recreational investments made in greenway connectivity to and through this area. The Old Reedy Creek Rd. corridor is one of the most heavily used recreation corridors (biking, running, hiking) in the Triangle. It is a hub on the regional greenway system.
  5. It helps protect water quality in Lake Crabtree and Crabtree Creek. The creeks on Tract B drain directly into Lake Crabtree, which then flow into Crabtree Creek along much of Tract A.
  6. Purchasing tract A (versus leasing) solves this piece in a permanent manner, and removes it as a management concern for RDU AA.

As the most visited park in the Wake County system, Lake Crabtree Park is well loved, but often overcrowded. Umstead State Park saw record visitor attendance in 2016 - 1.8 Million visitor days, a 38% year over year increase. Wake and Durham Counties continue to experience rapid growth. This all adds up to increased demand for centrally located recreational trails. RDU Forest represents a viable opportunity for us to think strategically and sustain a livable, healthy future for the Triangle. We urge RDU AA and our leaders to support this solution.