Written by Bill Bussey
Note: This article is meant to update or clarify parts of Kelly Evenson’s article at “Some Highlights From This List.”
Chatham County, with a population of just over 52,000, is located in the geographic center of North Carolina about 20 miles west of the capital city of Raleigh, and thirty miles southwest of Greensboro. The county seat of Chatham County is Pittsboro. Siler City is Chatham’s largest city. Chatham County is also home to Jordan Lake, one of the larger man-made lakes in the state. Many of the trails listed on this page are located at or near Jordan Lake.
While most Chatham County residents regard Chatham as being rural and agricultural, it is being encroached with development from the major population centers to the east and lesser extent the northwest. Thus, Chatham County is rapidly changing to a suburban area. Trails advocates and county officials are working hard and quickly to ensure that trails and future trail sites are not gobbled up by development, and are working with developers to incorporate trails and greenways as part of their projects.
Trails in or near Pittsboro
1. THANKS (Trail for Health, Art, and Nature for Kids to Seniors)
The length of this recently sealed asphalt fitness loop trail, which encircles the Central Carolina Community College Campus is 4485 feet as measured by this writer in 2002.
2. Pittsboro Jaycee Park Trail
This trail is not a loop. However, local activists are working Town of Pittsboro staff to make it a loop and the centerpiece of a greenway system in Pittsboro.
Trails in Siler City:
These trails are all fitness loop trails.
Siler City has formally begun the process of planning greenways with the establishment of a local Greenway committee. It is hoped that Siler City will construct at least one greenway within five years.
Trails around or in Jordan Lake State Recreation Area:
7. Weaver Creek Trail
There is currently no small hiker sign to indicate the start of the trail. However, the trail entrance is fairly obvious from the parking area. The trail is actually 4 miles in length in a “P” shaped configuration. That is a hiker goes out the leg of the P, where she hikes the loop and then comes back to the trailhead on the leg of the P. This trail was largely rebuilt and is currently maintained by the Chatham Trails Committee.
Add The American Tobacco Trail:
1. The American Tobacco Trail, a 22-mile long rail-trail now under development, traverses 4.5 miles through the extreme northeastern part of Chatham County. Currently, this trail in Chatham County is being cleared and maintained by the Triangle Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (TRTC) www.triangletrails.org in cooperation with the Chatham County Parks and Recreation Department.
About 3 miles of this natural surfaced (grass, clay and gravel) surfaced trail is now open for hikers, off-road and hybrid cyclists and limited equestrian use on a Use at Own Risk basis. Be aware that this trail is very much under construction and repair by TRTC. The trail surface may be very rough in some locations. Parking is available only by pulling off the sides of increasing busy rural roads. The trail ends from all access points at two trestles which still need to be decked. Plans are to deck these trestles and complete the trail by 2008.
Directions to New Hope Church Road ATT Access: From downtown Pittsboro take 64E to Highway 751. Turn left going north on Highway 751. Go 5.6 miles. Turn right onto New Hope Church Road at Citgo gas/convenience store. Go east approximately 3 miles to the crossing of the American Tobacco Trail. See the silver gates on both the north and south side. Park along the shoulder of this increasingly busy road.
Description: Hike or ride at your own risk approximately 1 mile north to currently undecked Panther Creek trestle. Trail has been cleared and cleaned by folks who live on New Hope Church Road and TRTC volunteers so users may see piles of cut wood and brush along trail.
Trail is closed south of New Hope Church Road. Please do not use. It is hoped this portion of the trail will be able to be opened by the summer of 2005.
Directions to O’Kelly Chapel Road ATT Access: Directions: From downtown Pittsboro take 64E to Highway 751. Turn left going north on Highway 751. Go approximately 12 miles. Turn right onto O’Kelly Chapel Road. Go approximately 2.5 miles passing the first phase of Rosemont (a gated community) on your left, Old Chatham Golf Club on your right, and then the trail crossing. See the silver gates on both sides of the road. If you pass the 2nd Rosemont entrance on your left, you’ve gone too far.
Description: Hike or ride at your own risk on this natural surfaced (grass, clay, gravel) rail-trail approximately 1 mile north to the currently undecked Northeast Creek trestle. The first 1/4 mile of the trail north of O’Kelly is extremely rough in places due to repairs currently in progress by TRTC volunteers of old logging equipment ruts. Some of these holes were 2-3 feet deep, so major improvements have been made!
After the first quarter mile, the trail improves dramatically and is fine all the way to the trestle. This trail has been cleared, cleaned and is managed by TRTC volunteers so users may see piles of cut wood and brush along trail. It is also mowed regularly during the summer months by TRTC volunteers.
Hike or ride south of O’Kelly Chapel Road 8/10 of a mile to the crossing of Pittard Sears Road. The trail is wide at this crossing because it is currently used as a school bus turnaround. Users can continue 4/10 mile south from the Pittard Sears Road crossing to the north side of the Panther Creek trestle. The last 2/10 of this segment of trail is on land
This section had extensive long time storm damage for almost 1/2 mile of its length, and was known then and now as the “war zone”. It was cleared by TRTC and REI volunteers in the winter and summer of 2004. It has been cleared, cleaned and is managed by TRTC volunteers so users may see piles of cut wood and brush along trail. It is also mowed regularly during the summer months by TRTC volunteers. The trail may have a very rough surface at road crossings. Again, use at own risk.
The contact for Community Coalition for an Active Chatham, now simply, Active Chatham is: Sarah Worley or by phone at: (919)542-8221
** Special Note for the following organizations too, and we encourage you to visit their websites:
Jordan Lake Trails Conservation Association http://www.jordanlaketrails.org
Purpose: Working to build a network of trails at Jordan Lake and the surrounding vicinity that accommodate equestrians, mountain bike riders, and hikers.
Contact: Richard Berner or phone at: (919) 270-9830
When and Where: Quarterly as needed. Check with contact
Triangle Rails-to-Trails Conservancy www.triangletrails.org
Purpose: To work with local and state government officials to preserve local abandoned railroad corridors for future transportation and other interim uses such as recreational trails. Also, with the cooperation of Durham Parks and Recreation and Chatham County Parks and Recreation, we clear, make safe, maintain, and manage portions of the American Tobacco Trail in southern Durham and Chatham counties so that folks can use the American Tobacco Trail NOW instead of having to wait several years for governments to complete it.
Contact: Bill Bussey
When and Where: First Monday of each Monthat 7:30 PM at the Woodcroft Professional Center at the intersection of Woodcroft Parkway and Fayetteville Road in southern Durham.
Pittsboro-Siler City CVB
Neha M. Shah
Director of Travel & Tourism
118 West St. (street)/POB 87 (Mailing)
Pittsboro, NC 27312
800.316.3829 (Visitor Information)
Serving all of Chatham County