Must-Visit Parks and Trails in Chatham County, NC

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Chatham County is replete with green spaces that provide opportunities for residents and visitors alike to get out and enjoy the fresh air and natural beauty of the Piedmont.

Let this be your guide to some of the best parks and walking trails in Chatham County, North Carolina, so you can make the most of your time in our charming towns. Do note that trails are subject to closures due to weather or repairs, and it’s a best practice to check with the trail or park via web, social or phone call before you go.

Looking for more outdoor activities? Peruse our list of some of our favorite summer must-dos in Chatham, or our Orange County Trail Guide.

Pam Freese, left with horse Eloise, and Barb Oslund, right, on Redbud, enjoy the Mason Point trail at Jordan Lake.

Photo by John Michael Simpson

Whether you are looking for a peaceful stroll through the woods, a challenging hike or a fun outing with friends and family, you’ll find what you’re looking for on this list.

1. American Tobacco Trail

Pittard Sears Rd. Access (GPS 35.8354283, -78.9281510)
New Hope Church Rd. Trailhead Park
(GPS 35.8172, -78.9280)
White Oak Church Rd. Access (GPS 35.7843596, -78.9224648)

The 22-plus-mile-long Rails-to-Trails Conservancy project runs 4.7 miles through Chatham County. The trail is a dual surface of asphalt and compacted granite screenings. It’s open for foot, bike or equestrian traffic.

2. Briar Chapel Trails

1600 Briar Chapel Pkwy., Chapel Hill
(GPS 35.8287, -79.1082)
Located on 900 acres and 24 miles of trails, Briar Chapel has room for walking, cross-country running or mountain biking. The trails are open from dawn to dusk every day. In partnership with Triangle Off-Road Cyclists, Briar Chapel has a sustainable 18-inch-wide single-track mountain bike trail for 15 miles in and around the community. In 2018, an obstacle course was constructed and is maintained by TORC volunteers.

3. The Park at Briar Chapel

1015 Andrews Store Rd., Pittsboro
(GPS 35.8107884, -79.1090639)
Amenities include two softball fields, a football/multipurpose field, a soccer/multipurpose field, a picnic shelter that accommodates up to 55 people, a playground, a paved walking trail and a dog park that features separate sections for big and small dogs, shaded benches and water fountains.

4. Northeast District Park

5408 Big Woods Rd., Chapel Hill
(GPS 35.8102682, -79.0315489)
This 66-acre park features softball fields, a multipurpose field, a picnic shelter, a playground, a pond (fishing is allowed, but it’s catch and release only), a tennis court and a 1/4-mile asphalt walking trail loop.

6. Mary Hayes Barber Holmes Park

304 Old Rock Springs Cemetery Rd., Pittsboro
(GPS 35.7438089, -79.1742900)
This 10-acre park in the Powell Place neighborhood has a mix of open fields and wooded areas with art and play sculptures dispersed throughout, a multipurpose field, a 1/3-mile paved walking trail (popular for road biking and walking), picnic shelters with grills and a misting spray fountain.

7. Lower Haw River State Natural Area

160 Bynum Church Rd., Pittsboro
(GPS 35.75024545, -79.12787436)
Enjoy birding, nature photography, fishing, hiking and paddling. While there are no authorized state park trails at this time, there are multiple unofficial footpaths that you can hike along the lower Haw River.

8. Earl Thompson Park

170 Bynum Hill Rd., Pittsboro
(GPS 35.7735889, -79.13834978)
Located along the Haw River, this park includes a softball field and a playground. In 2019, county commissioners approved a master plan that would transform the softball field into a 70,686-square-foot multipurpose “event lawn” as well as the installation of natural surface trails, a natural amphitheater, a “place of pause” that would include a labyrinth, an all-inclusive playground and a 4,300-square-foot arts, nature and history center.

9. Jordan Lake Track Trail/Seaforth Pond Trail

Seaforth Beach Rd., Pittsboro
(GPS 35.7354, -79.0380)
The 1.25-mile Seaforth Pond Trail is nearly a loop beginning on the western side of the beach parking lot and ending near picnic shelter No. 9. Visitors can catch glimpses of Jordan Lake while walking through forests of loblolly pines and hardwoods. There is also a meadow and a pond along this path. The Track Trail has been set up for self-guided nature hikes great for the whole family.

10. Knight Farm Community Park

362 Vine Pkwy., Pittsboro
(GPS 35.72520819, -79.15857163)
Named after the Knight family, who were longtime Chatham County farmers and residents, this new 10-acre park – the first of five parks to be constructed at Vineyard Park inside Chatham Park – was dedicated in June 2021 and contains a playground, walking trail, multipurpose field, splash pad and dog park. Future amenities will include more than 30 miles of walking, biking and multimodal trails; access to the Haw River and Jordan Lake; and an amphitheater for live music and entertainment.

11. Roland E. Horne Walking Trail

197 NC-87, Pittsboro
(GPS 35.72271, -79.18879)

This fully-paved, 1-mile loop near Carolina Central Community College and the Chatham County Public Library is great for strollers with half of the trail shaded by trees. Open year-round. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

12. Vista Point Blue and Red Trail

2498 N. Pea Ridge Rd., Pittsboro
(GPS 35.70925722, -79.0593330)
Choose between an easy 1- (blue) or 3-mile (red) loop hike in the Jordan Lake State Park. The Blue Trail passes by an old tobacco barn and crosses a boardwalk, while the Red Trail winds through the pine and mixed hardwood forests. The Red Trail is nearly a loop trail but requires walking along the road about 100 yards to end up back at the beginning. Hikers can rest on a bench along a quiet lake cove and then continue their trek through pine and mixed hardwood forests. Both trails start from the Vista Point Campground.

13. Poplar Point Campground Trail

558 Beaver Creek Rd., Apex
(GPS 35.728993387, -79.004502107)
This is an easy 2-mile trail that connects lakeside camping sites.

14. Town Lake Park

529 Highway 902, Pittsboro
(GPS 35.7128402649, -79.186926575)
Pittsboro’s first park was also once the home of the town’s water supply. The 36-acre park features the Town Lake, a small soccer field, swings, trails, a picnic shelter with grills, a fishing pier and free Wi-Fi.

15. Ebenezer Church Trail/Old Oak Trail

2582 Beaver Creek Road, Apex
(GPS 35.708433943, -79.015702775)
Hikers can choose to follow the Old Oak Trail or the Ebenezer Church Trail. The first option begins at Area A across from shelter No. 8. The 1-mile loop begins at the parking lot in the Ebenezer Picnic Area 1. For hikers with small children, look for the shortcut loop, which cuts the distance in half. The second trailhead is at the southeast corner of the beach parking lot. The 1.01-mile trail has a natural surface and passes the site of the historic church for which the area was named. Parts of the path includes an abandoned roadbed and a long boardwalk.

16. Loves Creek Greenway

623 S. Second Ave., Siler City
(GPS 35.71874902832, -79.454297247576)
Enjoy walking, running, biking and exploring nature on the 1.4-mile paved trail along the banks of the Loves Creek.

17. Rock Ridge Park

1397 Old Sanford Rd., Moncure
(GPS 35.67689610798274, -79.1811595462077)

This 52-acre neighborhood park is set among rolling hills of mature hardwoods. It features a 1/2-mile asphalt walking trail, a picnic shelter, a mini-amphitheater, a natural wood play fort and a popular 80-foot zipline. The park also hosts a top-ranked disc golf course.

18. Southwest District Park

15124 Highway 902, Bear Creek
(GPS 35.61496730064, -79.3940066477)

Amenities include a picnic shelter that accommodates up to 50 people, softball/multipurpose field, compacted half-mile trail, playground and sand volleyball court. In 2019, county commissioners approved a master plan that would replace the volleyball court with a 5,000-square-foot splash pad. The gravel trail around the park would be expanded by three-quarters of a mile, and a basketball court, two tennis/pickleball courts and a 7,700-square-foot community building would be added.

19. White Pines Nature Preserve

548 S. Rocky River Rd., Sanford
(GPS 35.615028526887, -79.159465026204)
Nestled at the confluences of the Rocky River and Deep River, these 275 acres are owned and managed by the Triangle Land Conservancy. Offers great birding in the spring and summer and hosts the world’s largest known population of the Cape Fear shiner, a federally endangered minnow species. Offers nearly six miles of hiking trails and a canoe launch site.

20. Fearrington Village Loop

W. Camden, Fearrington
(GPS 35.79818410702, -79.0892392529)
This is an easy 1.2-mile trail located near Pittsboro and is great for birding and hiking.

21. Mason Point Horse Trail

685 Transis Camp Rd., Chapel Hill
(GPS 35.854499305805234, -78.98944291284232)
A valid Game Land License is required to ride here. Explore wooded terrain on this 5.5-mile loop trail, which is marked by orange arrows and/or orange diamond paint blazes.

22. Northwest District Park

2413 Woody Store Rd., Siler City
(GPS 35.8075754209, -79.3295800423)
Amenities include a dining hall that accommodates up to 75 people, activity center that accommodates up to 40 people, picnic shelter that accommodates up to 50 people, pool available weekends only from 1-5 p.m., basketball court, compacted trail, playground and a pond for catch and release only. The 1.3-mile loop trail is considered an easy route and takes an average of 29 minutes to complete. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

23. Jordan Lake Audubon Wildlife Platform Trail

281-691 Martha’s Chapel Rd., Apex
(GPS 35.78997, -79.00093)

Located near Apex, this out-and-back trail is considered easy, taking an average of seven minutes to complete, and offers views of birds and other animal and plant life.

24. Jordan Lake Path

Farrington Rd., New Hope Township
(GPS 35.75263, -79.00849)

Discover this 0.7-mile trail near Cary that’s great for paddle sports and walking. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

25. Jordan Lake Wildlife Trail

2832 Big Woods Rd., Chapel Hill
(GPS 35.77528, -79.04168)
Catch a glimpse of the wildlife as you hike or bike along this wide, easy-to-follow loop trail. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

26. Low Lands and Jordan Lake Forest Demonstration Trail

2832 Big Woods Rd., Chapel Hill
(GPS 35.77381, -79.04136)

A 2.6-mile loop trail that’s great for hiking, running and walking. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

27. Parkers Creek

Parkers Creek Beach Rd., Chapel Hill
(GPS 35.7442354, -79.0419087)

This 3.2 mile out-and-back trail, located in the Jordan Lake Educational State Forest, is a good option for camping, walking and hiking. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

28. Jordan Lake Poplar Trail

558 Beaver Creek Rd., Apex
(GPS 35.72668110653418, -79.01402437005956)

Generally considered a moderately challenging route, this 3.2-mile loop trail takes an average of a little over an hour to complete.

29. Wilderness Island Trail

(GPS 35.70178, -79.06926)
Located in the Jordan Lake State Recreational Area, this 5.6-mile out-and-back shaded trail can be muddy. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

30. New Hope Overlook

448 W H Jones Rd, New Hill
(GPS 35.6832026667203, -79.04757739629653)

Generally considered an easy route, give this 2.8-mile loop trail a try. It passes through wooded areas to the shore of Jordan Lake and back. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

31. Roberson Creek Paddle Launch

Hanks Chapel Rd, Pittsboro
(GPS 35.71682181179085, -79.0964715975764)

Experience this out-and-back trail near Pittsboro and bring your paddle sports and bird watching gear, as this trail is great for both.

32. Lower Haw River Trail

4551 US-64, Pittsboro
(GPS 35.73280121345, -79.1047607595
This moderately challenging route takes an average of a little over two hours to complete at 7.9-miles. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

33. Poe’s Ridge Trail

935 Jordan Dam Rd, Moncure
(GPS 35.644199282899, -79.08559042698
Pack your running and hiking gear and head to this 3.6-mile loop trail located near Moncure.

34. Jordan Lake Dam Loop

2082 Jordan Dam Rd., Moncure
(GPS 35.65466269123973, -79.07023147215118)

Check out this 1.5-mile loop trail that’s considered an easy route and great for birding, hiking and running. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

35. Kirks Creek Paddle Route

Near intersection of Haley Meadows Dr. and Johnson Rd., Moncure
(GPS 35.64536863400172, -79.09860086354226

Great for paddle sports, this loop trail is 7.0-miles and located near Moncure.

36. Gilbert Yager, White Pines and Rocky River Trail Loop

548 S Rocky River Rd, Sanford
(GPS 35.61530420036109, -79.16041763068255)

This trail loop takes an average of a little over 50 minutes to complete and is generally considered a moderately challenging route. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

37. Rocky River Trail Loop

548 S Rocky River Rd, Sanford
(GPS 35.61530420036109, -79.16041763068255)

Hike along this 1.6-mile loop trail near Sanford that’s also known for birding and fishing. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

38. River Trail to Schoolkids Trail

548 S Rocky River Rd, Sanford
(GPS 35.61530420036109, -79.16041763068255)

Located in the White Pines Nature Preserve, this loop trail that takes a little over 20 minutes to complete and is an easy route at one mile. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

39. Schoolkids Way Trail

548 S Rocky River Rd, Sanford
(GPS 35.61530420036109, -79.16041763068255)

Also located in the White Pines Nature Preserve, explore this out-and-back trail near Sanford that’s great for birding, fishing and hiking. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

40. Rock Ridge Park Disc Golf Course

1397 Old Sanford Rd, Moncure
(GPS 35.67565806220778, -79.18112506136511)

This 2.1-mile, easy loop trail is located near Moncure and is a good spot for hiking and walking.

41. Pittsboro Lake Park Trail

529 NC-902, Pittsboro, NC 27312
(GPS 35.71344719291604, -79.18671172329363)

Taking an average of 25 minutes to complete, this out-and-back trail is an easy route and is great for birding and hiking in addition to walking.

42. Luckystone Trail

15124 NC-902, Bear Creek
(GPS 35.61521837297542, -79.39412524064011)

A popular trail for birding, walking and hiking, this loop trail is 0.6-miles long and located within the Southwest District Park. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

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