Knightdale opens bridge to newly-expanded Neuse River Greenway

aspecht@newsobserver.com, ccampbell@newsobserver.comApril 30, 2013 

— Eastern Wake is now connected to more than 20 miles of paved trails from Northeast Raleigh to Johnston County.

On April 25, Raleigh officially opened the lower section of the Neuse River Greenway, which runs from the future Horseshoe Farm Park off U.S. 401 along the river across the county line to a five-mile greenway in Clayton.

From Knightdale, the greenway can be accessed using a pedestrian bridge over the Neuse River, which the town opened on April 13. It’s a short distance from Anderson Point Park, where a trail leads from the parking lot to the bridge.

“Promoting health and wellness is a part of our mission statement,” James Roberson, Knightdale town councilman, said of the town’s connection to the Neuse River Greenway.

“With Rex (hospital), the park, and the YMCA, this falls in line with the direction our town is going,” Roberson said.

Last year, Rex Hospital opened a wellness center on Knightdale Boulevard near the I-540 interchange. In July, Knightdale plans to open a 70-acre park on First Avenue, where the YMCA plans to build a recreation center to open during summer 2015.

In 2014, Knightdale is expected to complete the $2.8 million, 2.5-mile Mingo Creek Greenway, which will connect the park on First Avenue to the Neuse River Greenway via the pedestrian bridge near Anderson Point Park.

With a lack of greenways in eastern Wake, Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen said he hopes local residents will check out Knightdale’s bridge to the Neuse River Greenway.

“Lots of people just haven’t had exposure to (greenways) because we haven’t had them in eastern Wake,” Killen said. “This will give them a chance to see what we’re investing in (in the Mingo Creek Greenway).”

For now, though, Knightdale residents can enjoy the new-trail smell of Raleigh’s latest greenway project, which cost $30 million and was funded by park bonds approved by Raleigh and Wake County voters in 2007.

“This is the first time the residents of Raleigh and Wake County will have the opportunity to see this stretch of the Neuse River up close,” said former Mayor Charles Meeker, who pushed for the trail plan back in 2007. “It’s a beautiful stretch near the river, and the individual pieces have been heavily used so far.”

For those accessing the Neuse River Greenway through Anderson Point Park, here’s what to expect:

Heading south

Anderson Point Park to Auburn-Knightdale Road (4.3 miles): From the canoe launch north of the East Raleigh park, the trail crosses the U.S. 264 bypass alongside the park’s access road and joins its existing loop trail. On the park’s south end, it crosses Crabtree Creek as it leaves the city limits toward a heavily wooded area along the river – home to a series of popular fishing holes. It emerges at the River Ridge golf community just southeast of Raleigh.

Auburn-Knightdale Road to Johnston County line (5.7 miles): The trailhead on Auburn-Knightdale is another future park, the Randleigh Farm property. From here, the trail veers away from the Neuse to bypass the city’s wastewater treatment plant. In the process, walkers and cyclists pass through farm fields and along two rural roads before rejoining the river near Mial Plantation Road, then hitting Clayton’s greenway at the county line.

Heading north

Anderson Point Park to Hedingham (3.5 miles): This section passes through the future Milburnie Park, which spans the river at the old Milburnie Dam, and skirts the Hedingham neighborhood in East Raleigh.

Hedingham to Horseshoe Farm (7 miles): This segment connects a series of Raleigh parks, some of which haven’t yet been developed. It passes through the Alvis Farm park property off Tarheel Club Road and a recently acquired tract in the planned 5401 North subdivision. It ends at Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve, where construction of walking trails and a picnic area will start this fall. The biggest highlight, however, is two pedestrian suspension bridges over the Neuse that bookend the section.

Specht: 919-829-4826

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