Wake County hit a home run when they changed an old deserted railroad into a place for horse lovers and bicycle owners to ride. The idea began with the horse owner community, however to get enough support to receive funding, the cyclists were asked to help. Now the trail is a reality and is actually a part of the park system. It is used not only by horse lovers and bikers, but you will see joggers and walkers on the trail as well.
The American Tobacco Trail begins in New Hill and extends northward past Apex and Cary though Wake County and Chatham County, and on into Durham County. It is now long enough to host a running marathon, and indeed has done so each spring for several years. The Wake county section has excellent footing for horses. When you cross into Chatham and Durham county, the footing changes with less room for horses to travel side by side. It turns out that the joggers prefer the “horse” footing to the paved areas, too.
When you bring your horses to the American Tobacco Trail, there are two parking lots in Wake County set up for horse trailer access. One is in New Hill and the other is the White Oak Road entrance. If it your horse’s first time on the trail, bring a brave buddy along. You will see people walking dogs and pushing strollers. Bicycles will pass you from behind and come at you from ahead. There is a tunnel to go through, streets to cross, and bridges to go over. Much of the trail is shaded, but there are a few sunny spots. You will pass houses and swamps. Occasionally you will see wildlife cross the trail. (Need a buddy? Call me. Both of my horses are experienced and I always love an excuse to go riding!)
Please remember to be polite. People on the trail love to watch the horses but most are not familiar with horses, some are a little afraid of them, and not everyone understands what a “spook” is. Have fun and let me know how it goes!