Durham Winter Trail Tromp
Winter is a perfect time to explore Durham's trail network. No ticks and amazing views. This year Durham Businesses are teaming up to focus on four recreation areas: Wagon Hill Farm, Longmarsh Preserve, The Milne Nature Sanctuary, and Stevens Woods. They highlight the network's diversity and accessibility. Starting February 4, pick up a trail passport at a participating local business. You can also pick one at the trail heads February 12 11:AM to 3PM. Explore the trails and then visit a local durham business. Have them staple a receipt on your passport. To enter a community raffle , drop off a completed passport at Oyster River Cycle and Sport or Freedom Cafe .
The prolonged disruptions of Covid has been really hard on Durham businesses. Winter is a challenging time and they need community support. If you would like to donate a gift card from a local business to the raffle, here is a link.
Get outside, enjoy our public lands, and help local businesses.
Most people's first concern with winter hiking is being cold. The majority of the time a cool hat, stylish gloves, ski jacket, and the walk will keep you warm. The real issue is footing. You should have a set of microspikes. They slip onto your boots and help prevent falls. Cheaper than and ER visit..
Wagon Hill Farm
This is the most popular recreational area in the Winter Tromp. In the mornings before 10 AM, well behaved dogs are allowed off leash, and as result, it is dog Nirvana. On weekends, the front of the hill is a great spot for sledding. A trail map is on the town website and my write up is on the Celebrate page.
Walking the loop around the property gives some great views of the Oyster River and takes around 45 minutes. Emery Farm is just across Route 4 and offers a variety of food and drink options. My old routine included an egg, spinach, and cheese on an everything bagel from the Works Cafe.
While the trail is amazing, it will have icy areas. I would strongly encourage you use microspikes. Durham Public Works recently completed a new parking area next to the trail head and it really helped expand access. Here is a link to my old Sweet Trail write up.
This is a really remarkable area. The trail head at the end of Longmarsh provides access to the Sweet Trail. It is only a few miles away from most Durham neighborhoods, but it frequently feels like you are in the middle of nowhere. The long route is an 8 mile round trip to the Bay, but there are many shorter options. A highlight of the walk is the beaver dam near the beginning of the trail.
The Milne Nature Sanctuary
After nearly two years of Covid turmoil, seems fitting to talk about a spot designed for a short break to catch your breath and collect your thoughts. The sanctuary is a small park next to downtown on Mill Pond Road. It offers nice views of the Mill Pond. Here is the town's Miline Nature Sanctuary write up.
A loop of the faculty neighborhood is a great alternative to crowds or icy trails. Park downtown and walk Faculty Road to Mill Pond Road. The Sanctuary is just past Chesley Drive. The route continues back up Mill Pond Road into the neighborhood. Up the hill you pass the the historic Hamilton Smith Chapel. Ahead just past the bend, you will find the Kenny Rotner Bridge. The picture below is the view from the middle of the bridge. The short way back to town is Thompson Lane to Faculty. If want a longer route, stay on Oyster River Road and take Mill Road back downtown. Nice walk that ends with lots of breakfast or lunch options.
A few years ago Durham Resident Dennis Meadows spearheaded an effort to buy a 25 acre plot of land and build a bridge to connect downtown Durham to Foss Farm trails. An amazing vision that help provide a wonderful community asset. There is parking at the trail head on Orchard Drive in the Foss Farm Neighborhood. The Kenny Rotner bridge crosses the Oyster River and allows you to walk downtown. Excellent opportunity for a few mile walk followed by a cup of coffee. Here is a link to the town website that includes a trail map.