Today Pat and I walked the New Hope Bottomlands Trail. This is a 2.2 mile loop through the flood plain of New Hope Creek in Durham.
You get to it from Southwest Durham Parkway. The park and Githens Middle School share a driveway so look for the signs for both. Park at the end of the soccer field near the bathrooms and follow the paved trail between the bathrooms and the soccer trail. The initial trail dead ends on to a footpath that runs along a utility easement. maybe a quarter mile (at most) you’ll see a small brown sign directing you to the trailhead. You follow the trail for about 0.1 miles to get to the loop. I recommend going right / counterclockwise on the loop. This takes you along New Hope Creek the soonest.
Despite being a little hard to find, the trail itself is easy to navigate. I didn’t see any blaze markers, but there are enough clues of trail improvement here and there that there was never any danger of getting lost.
At the same time, this was a surprisingly pleasant walk through the woods. Its shaded almost the entire path. You can definitely tell you are in kind of a swampy area, but you never had to worry about accidentally stepping in the muck or anything like that. Likewise I was afraid that any area called “the bottomlands” was going to be muggy and insect infested. But we were there on a relatively dry day in September and there was enough of a breeze that it was quite pleasant.
There are several side paths that let you access the creek bank. Not gonna lie. It was not the most picturesque view of New Hope Creek I’ve ever seen. See pictures below.
Here’s the best thing about this trail. We had the place to ourselves. Judging by the leaves on the path etc, I suspect we might have been the only people to walk the trail in a week. And we caught some deer by surprise and we passed within about 20 feet of them before we saw them and they saw us. They bolted of course, and I don’t think they were used to seeing people walk by.
So it’s not the easiest to find. Not the most beautiful trail I’ve ever seen. But if you’re looking for a pleasant walk alone in the woods, this would be a great option.