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Spring has sprung so let's explore the great outdoors!

Beautiful Parks and Greenways in Wake County, North Carolina

Explore nature and outdoors with our amazing park and greenway system.


Known as the “City of Oaks” because of the sheer number of oak trees which line the city streets, Raleigh is a town most famous and well known for its majestic oak trees. In this charming town, one of the things that you will notice right away is how green it is, since it features an abundance of greenways and scenic parks. 

What is the best way to truly appreciate how charming this city truly is? By spending a day exploring its parks, of course! In addition, you can enjoy the numerous recreational activities it has to offer. In addition to these beautiful parks, we have many wooded neighborhoods, pretty lakes, and a 100+ mile Capital Area Greenway System, making Raleigh an ideal place for active people and those who love the outdoors! Thus, without further delay, let’s explore the top parks and greenways in Raleigh.

Gardens to Explore

Along with its beautiful parks and greenways, Raleigh also has a handful of botanical gardens to explore! These gardens include:

  1. Sarah P. Duke Gardens

In the heart of Durham sits a picturesque, 55-acre botanical wonderland where the sounds of cars and traffic fade away, birds sing in the trees and rivers flow alongside paths to more than 2,500 plant species. Thousands of people come to Sarah P. Duke Gardens every year to experience the garden’s artful expression of nature and to enjoy exploration, discovery, and inspiration.

You can begin your adventure at the kiosk by the Gothic gates. In this area, you can pick up a map and visitor guide to help you plan your journey through the different gardens. The color-coded map illustrates four main areas of Sarah P. Duke Gardens: the Historic Gardens, the H.L. Blomquist Gardens of Native Plants, the W.L. Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, and the Doris Duke Center & Gardens. These gorgeous sites are full of vibrant flowers and plants for you to explore.

  1. Juniper Level Botanical Gardens

The Juniper Level Botanic Garden is a private research as well as a display botanic garden with the mission of preserving genetic germplasm, conducting scientific and taxonomic research, breeding plants, and propagating the resulting plants to increase their availability to the general public.

Stunning Parks to Explore (especially for those nature lovers out there)

  1. William B. Umstead State Park

Raleigh has a number of state parks that you can visit. It is certainly one of the advantages of living in Raleigh to be only 15 minutes away from an awesome state park. This is one of the many reasons why so many people choose to live in this stunning town. Umstead State Park offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking trails through the forest, mountain biking, trail running, picnicking, camping, canoeing, and horseback riding. A natural oasis surrounded by three man-made lakes, Umstead is one of North Carolina’s most visited state parks.

  1. Lake Johnson Park

With its incredible location just a few minutes from NC State University, Lake Johnson is definitely one of the most popular lakes in Raleigh. For those of you who are visiting Raleigh for the first time, you might want to start with Lake Johnson. With its convenient location, just 10 minutes from downtown, students at the University and locals who enjoy exercising will find Lake Johnson Park appealing. 

The east side of the lake has a paved trail that encircles the lake for a distance of three miles. The west side of the lake has an unpaved trail that circumnavigates it over a distance of two miles. There is a boathouse available for you to rent kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, sunfish sailboats, and jon boats. There is also the option for fishing from the 700 feet of boardwalk that runs across the center of the lake.

  1. E. Carol Joyner Park

Developed as part of a redesigned community facility and in partnership with CLH Design, the playground at E Carroll Joyner Park honors the site’s history as a farm until the late 20th century. The playground theme and equipment design reflect the pastoral character of the park. The Joyner Park inchworm is also a playful and colorful interpretation of the old saying “The early bird catches the worm.” The carvings represent two species that are common to the area: the cardinal and blue jay. 

In the senior area of the park, there is a two-level tower inspired by the farm structures present on site, which is connected by an accessible bridge to the pathway. There are two slides on the tower, and it is connected to a large log jam climber, creating a continuous circuit of play. This area features a blue jay as an independent play piece.

The children’s area of the playground tells the story of the small cardinal and the giant worm. While perched on top of a log, the cardinal watches the bright green inchworm peering through the soil. Along with these playable chainsaw-carved sculptures, you’ll also find a birdhouse play hut and tall blades of grass on the log posts.

  1. Fred Fletcher Park

Among the facilities in this tranquil park are a water garden, walking paths, a playground, sports fields, and an amphitheater. Additionally, it is a wonderful place for a picnic. Fred Fletcher Park is surrounded by plants that grow in both the evergreen and perennial varieties. The wetland areas are home to many creatures, including butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, and ducks. What a wonderful spot to enjoy Raleigh in its full glory.

Greenways to Explore

  1. Abbots Creek Trail

Within a suburban community near Wake Forest, North Carolina sits Abbotts Creek Trail which follows a tree-lined route beside open fields and subdivisions. Following Abbotts Creek, the trail passes by the North Wake landfill and connects to the 28-mile Neuse River Trail at its eastern end and to the Simms Branch Trail at its western end. 

  1. Marsh Creek Trail

Designed and constructed to be barrier-free, Marsh Creek Park has wide, gradual sidewalks and a seamless rubber playground surface so that everyone can enjoy the park. Several brand-new features have been added to the redesigned play area, which stimulates the senses of sight and hearing. Located in a stunning 24,000 square foot building, the new community center has been designed to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible.

  1. Little Rock Trail

The Little Rock Trail begins on E. Martin Street. The scenic trail route passes through Chavis Park and parallels Chavis Way. A wide range of features can be found at the park, including rock outcroppings, a swimming pool, a baseball field, shelters, and a vintage carousel. Located in the immediate vicinity of the park, the trail passes through a greenway that is surrounded by residential areas and businesses, connecting to the Walnut Creek Trail and the Walnut Creek Wetland Center located on Peterson Road.

And just like that, this concludes our list of Wake County parks! We hope this article has given you a better insight into the many reasons Raleigh residents love living here – with these picturesque parks and greenways being at the top of the list.

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