I know how hard it is to get young kids out of the house to go somewhere - even quick outings require you to pack enough snacks, diapers, and toys to make you think you’ll be gone for a week. And who wants to wrestle kids in and out of carseats just to find out that your destination isn’t kid-friendly? That’s why I’ve decided to visit Triangle area sites to see if they’re worth your trip. I won’t use a rating system but I’ll try to describe what you’ll see well enough for you to decide if your kids would find it interesting. I’ll also give you the heads up on bathrooms, stroller accessibility and any other SNAFUs I encounter.


Neuse River Trail milepost 22 - 24.5 - Auburn Knightdale Rd., Garner


           A beautiful, cool spring Sunday inspired me to head out on the Neuse River Trail once again with all three children and Mama Cruise Director too. A minivan packed with my oldest's scooter, a Big Wheel and enough rations for a picnic had us on our way.

           This trailhead offers a great parking lot off of Auburn Knightdale Rd. The Trail speed limit of 10 mph is helpful on this portion with its' steeper grades (one of the steepest is near the site of the above picture). Private land and a wastewater facility cause the Trail to take its' greatest deviation from it's usual riverside meandering. Farmland is the dominant scenery here. Trailside litter is nonexistent. And although hunting is prohibited near the Trail, if you think you hear gunshots near marker 23 you're right - there's a law enforcement firing range nearby.

          Stopping trailside we had a picnic. And even though he hadn't pedaled or scooted a mile like his brother and sister, my toddler packed in the food until he belched so loud it was hard to believe a sound that deep could come from such a small body.

          The highlight of the trek is the tunnel under Battle Bridge Rd at mile 23.25.

        At mile 24 the Trail crosses Brownfield Rd and then parallels it for another 3/4 mile. The entrance to a landfill is also at this crossing and even though you can't see the landfill itself, you can smell it when you're downwind.

         The nice weather meant plenty of bikers were on the trail (I always prefer it when they call out which side their passing on.) We even stopped to talk to one cyclist after my preschooler kept swerving his Big Wheel in front of the man trying to prevent him from passing. My preschooler's stamina is obviously improving as he pedaled well over a mile and a half this time.

UPDATE: Dec 2013
Part of this section at the Auburn Knightdale Rd. parking lot is closed while it looks like a new bridge over the Neuse is being installed. Check out these photos of the work.


Neuse River Trail milepost 15 to 13 - Raleigh


       I've been trying to get out to this new greenway for awhile. I would like to do the whole Trail in sections.

      We started our trek at milepost 15 from Loch Raven Parkway off of Old Milburnie Road. There is a parking lot there at the end of a gravel road. You'll find picnic tables and a canoe launch at this same spot.

       As you cross the first bridge you're treated to a view of water rushing over a dam, as pictured above. The trail is wide and paved. No steep grades on this section, just gentle slopes. We saw several cyclists along our 2 mile stretch. My 3 year-old rode his Big Wheel for 3/4 of a mile. This portion of the Trail is not shaded so it was a good thing we did it on an overcast day.

        For a half mile of this section the Trail backs up to a neighborhood of double occupancy homes, so that part is not as scenic. But in the more natural portions we saw ducks, geese, turtles, and all kinds of birds. At one point the Trail passed a home with two ponies in the backyard.

        At milepost 13.5 you encounter an impressive suspension bridge across the River.

        And there are a couple of nicely landscaped crossroad points that allow access to the Trail from other neighborhoods.

       This is a nice greenway and everything is so new and pretty. You can even smell the new wood used on many of the bridges. There is not much litter along the way and I hope people will care enough to keep it that way. I wanted to keep going because I never knew what I'd see around the next turn, but with young children you only have so long before their attention wanes and the whining begins.