I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Friday, December 23, 2016

A Hillsborough Walking Adventure

We ride our bikes on a lot of greenways. While in theory walkers, runners, and bikers should be able to share the greenways, the reality is that the interaction between bikers and walkers is a little stressful. Bikers move fast, and, if they don’t call out or ring a bell, they barely make any noise, catching walkers unaware. On the flipside, the number of walkers we encounter while biking who are oblivious of their surroundings is pretty high. Calling out to walkers doesn’t help if they are so focused on their phones they don’t hear you.

So, if you just want to walk without worrying about bikes, the path I’ll describe today is for you. Bikes are outright prohibited on half of the trail, and the rest of the trail isn’t very bike friendly with narrow bridges and tight turns. You’re free to walk without thinking twice about what might be zooming up behind you.

A few months ago, a bridge was built over the Eno River that links two great walking trails, the Hillsborough Riverwalk and the Occaneechee Speedway Trail. Both include segments of North Carolina's Mountain to Sea Trail. There are hiking trails around the speedway, but for our walk today we stuck to the flat walking paths, walking from the Speedway all the way to Gold Park, then back and once around the speedway trace. This makes for a pleasant 5.3 mile round trip that I would argue is one of the nicest long walking trails in North Carolina (as opposed to a hiking trail or bike trail). It's got great scenery, lots of historical markers, and easy access to water and bathrooms since a big chunk of the trail is so close to downtown.

The path we walked, tracked by GPS.
 The walk could easily be edited. Gold Park has several different walking paths looping together, and the easy trails around the speedway could be added to make this a six or seven mile walk.
Ordinarily not a sign we like to see, but it does make walking less stressful.

In winter, the trails possess a stark beauty.

Good for the brain as well as the body.
One nice feature of this walk is that you're passing along ground that's been continuously occupied since long before there was a place called Hillsborough. Lots of signs explain the history and prehistory of the area. This sign has an old map showing old roads that used to intersect the path of the Riverwalk.


Occoneechee Speedway

Fairy House
Blaze marking the Mountain to Sea Trail

A woodpecker working hard for its meal.
Since we did a morning walk, the only real wildlife we saw was a woodpecker. When we walk this path in the evening, more often than not we see deer. In the spring we often see young owls in the trees as well.

Looking forward to the day they build a bridge connecting the Speedway and Ayr Mount. I also look forward to this segment of the Mountain to Sea Trail finally connecting with the portion in the Eno. Then, if a person were so inclined, it would be possible to walk from Hillsborough to the far side of Raleigh without having to once walk along a road. That's an adventure I'm really hoping can happen within the next few years.

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