The Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail is a great place to bring your dog when you're in the mood to do something new. It's unlike any other trail in or near the Triangle. The flat dirt loop is not only an old NASCAR track, but one of the sport's very first. The speedway was active from 1948 to 1968 and is surrounded by relics of the era, including wooden spectator stands and rusting old racecars. How many other trails let you race with your dog around the same track where Richard Petty won three races?
The walk to and around the track and back is only about one mile and takes about half an hour to complete. You can add one or more spur trails if you want a longer hike. The out-and-back hike around the interconnected Spectator Trace, Terrace Trace, Wolf Tree Trace, Beach Bluff Trail, and Big Bend Trails adds about two miles. The full three-mile walk should take less than two hours to finish. If you want an even longer walk, you can continue from the trailhead to the three-mile Hillsborough Riverwalk Trail, which was connected to the Speedway Trail via a pedestrian bridge over the Eno River that was completed in 2016.
The Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail isn't just for racing and history buffs. It's a great place for nature lovers, too. The forests surrounding the trail are lush in the summer, and the way the tall pines filter the light gives the trail a peaceful feeling. Mushrooms grow in the deep shade and ivy climbs up the trees. In warmer months, wildflowers including spring beauties, saxifrage, woodrush, and chickweed grow. The songs of warblers and thrushes echo from the canopy. The wind rustles the leaves of oak, sycamore, and cherry trees.
Make sure you bring your own waste bags and water, as there are few amenities at the trailhead. While the flat, relatively short trail won't take too long complete, you'll probably want to linger in this special place. Bring a camera, too. You'll treasure the memories you'll make with your dog at the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail.