in Check It Out, Green, Raleigh

Middle Crabtree Trail: Raleigh greenways’ hidden gem

Saturday, the family and I decided to explore our world by bike, so we rode through the neighborhoods to the nearby Raleigh city greenway. Our destination was the section of greenway between Raleigh Boulevard and Capital Boulevard known as the Middle Crabtree Trail. Getting there wasn’t a problem, as we could ride on low-traffic streets all the way to Raleigh Boulevard. Once to Raleigh Boulevard, though, we had to stick to the sidewalks for a block as that street appears too dangerous for safe biking.

The greenway path begins just north of a bridge on Raleigh Boulevard. We turned left and went down a ramped boardwalk which switched back on its way to just above the water level. There we were presented with long stretches of level boardwalk with wetlands stretching out on all sides. It was beautiful! We saw geese, crows, and a Great Blue Heron who was patiently (and successfully) stalking a fish, but not another soul. We did see a sleeping bag left in a gazebo – someone apparently sleeps there at night – but other than that we the whole path to ourselves!

The boardwalk stretches through the wetlands before turning northeast through the woods. It then heads under an impressive covering which shields the path from the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks above. From there it tracks alongside Crabtree Creek until it reaches Capital Boulevard, where the path borrows the Crabtree Creek bridge to bring us safely under the busy street. To my knowledge, this is the only place pedestrians can cross Capital Boulevard without crossing traffic.

The path then comes to an abrupt halt on the northeast side of Capital (the Hodges St. section) where the creek flooded out the greenway between there and Atlantic Avenue. Dedicated riders can then exit the greenway and ride along Hodges Street to pick up the trail again. Hodges is anything but pedestrian-friendly, however, so extreme caution is required. We opted not to chance it with the kids in tow, so we headed back at that point.

I was quite impressed with the view of the wetlands, especially having initially written it off as a mucky wasteland before our ride. Its definitely worth seeing and appears destined to remain a hidden gem as long as the Hodges street section of the greenway remains under repair. Once that section reopens one can pedal exclusively on greenways from Crabtree Valley mall almost all the way east to WakeMed. Eventually that will include Umstead Park. Amazing.

I’ll take my camera the next time we’re on that path to give y’all a look at things.