Top Dog Trails near Raleigh, NC

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Introduction

Located on the Piedmont plateau just on the other side of the Appalachian Mountains, Raleigh is a hiker's paradise. The Triangle is surrounded by beautiful state parks, and many greenways lie within the Raleigh city limits. Most trails in the area welcome leashed dogs and many link up, forming a pawsome dog-friendly trail network through rural and urban areas. Many of Raleigh's trails pass by lakes and rivers and provide tranquil water views. You and your pup will delight in all the sights, smells, and sounds you'll find on these top trails around Raleigh.

#10 American Tobacco Trail

The American Tobacco Trail starts just southeast of Duke University in Durham, and continues south for 22 miles to a point east of Jordan Lake. Parking and bathrooms are available at the southern trailhead on New Hill Olive Chapel Road. The converted rail-trail is mostly paved and is popular with local joggers, cyclists, and equestrians. It's also a busy dog walking spot—expect to encounter other pups on the American Tobacco Trail!

#9 Raven Rock Loop Trail at Raven Rock State Park

The scenery at gorgeous Raven Rock State Park in Harnett County is more than worth the hour's drive from Raleigh. You and your dog will enjoy playing together in this unique landscape. You can take a slight detour off the Raven Rock Loop Trail to climb down 135 steps to the park's namesake rock formation. Once there, you and your pup can scramble over huge tree roots and boulders while looking up at the 150-foot-tall rocks.

#8 Chestnut Oak Loop at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

At 1.2 miles, the Chestnut Oak Loop is the longest trail in the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary. It's easy to connect to the park's other trails to make a continuous five-mile loop. These gorgeous trails feature many scenic overlooks and boardwalks where you can view stands of the rare Piedmont hemlock, a survivor of the Ice Age. Many birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians make their home in this natural sanctuary.
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#7 Crabtree Creek Trail

The fifteen-mile Crabtree Creek Trail, also known as the Crabtree Creek Greenway, connects the Neuse River Greenway with points farther west. The paved trail is part of the Capital Area Greenway Trail System and is a great place to walk your dog. It winds through natural, urban, and suburban landscapes and features scenic bridges, boardwalks, and creek crossings. It links several parks and other local amenities.

#6 Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail

The Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail in Hillsborough is unlike any other trail in the Raleigh area. Originally one of the first NASCAR tracks, it is now a two-mile dirt loop you and your pup can race around on foot and paw. While this track was built for speed, there's something tranquil about it now. Old bleachers and rusty racecars have been reclaimed by nature. Ivy grows up the trees and tall pines filter the light.

#5 Walnut Creek Greenway Trail

The fifteen-mile Walnut Creek Greenway Trail is one of the most beautiful urban trails in Raleigh. It starts at the Neuse River, where it intersects the Neuse River Greenway, and ends at Lake Johnson Park, where it intersects the Lake Johnson Loop Trail. This mostly paved trail links urban and natural landscapes and includes many scenic bridges and boardwalks. You'll spot wild animals and wildflowers in the forests and wetlands along the way.

#4 North Carolina Museum of Art Blue Loop

The two-mile loop trail at the North Carolina Museum of Art Park gives you and your pup a unique opportunity to browse works of art together. The trail winds through woodlands, meadows, and open lawns where you can see sculptures by Rodin and Miró, installations by cutting-edge contemporary artists, and landscape art like the museum's iconic Gyre Rings by Thomas Sayre. The Reedy Creek Trail forms the bottom part of the museum loop and continues beyond it for five miles.

#3 Lake Johnson Loop Trail

The four-mile Lake Johnson Loop Trail inside the Lake Johnson Park completely circumnavigates its namesake lake. The trail is designed so that you and your pup can either hike the trail in one continuous loop or split it in half by taking the West Loop or East Loop. The lakeside boardwalk sections are especially scenic, and you'll also pass by shady forested sections and picnic areas that are perfect spots to stop and give your good dog some pets.

#2 Sal's Branch Trail in William B. Umstead State Park

The Sal's Branch Trail is a scenic trail in 5600-acre William B. Umstead State Park, one of the most popular hiking destinations in Raleigh. The relatively flat 2.8-mile loop rewards return visits with varied scenery that changes with the seasons. The Sal's Branch Trail starts just past the park's visitors' center and connects lake and forest. Streams, lush banks of ferns, stands of tall pines, and wildflower fields are just some of the beautiful sights on this trail.

#1 Neuse River Greenway

The Neuse River Greenway is a 30-mile-long point-to-point trail that runs from the Falls Lake Dam to the Wake County line. Along the way, it intersects with other popular Raleigh trails like the Walnut Creek Trail and Crabtree Creek Greenway. The paved greenway is a great trail to check out one section at a time. On different parts of the trail, you'll see pawsome suspension bridges, waterfalls, and sunflower fields.