When folks move to Lee County from more health-focused communities, they usually comment on one thing first: There are no sidewalks.
Sure, historic downtown and City Hall offer them, but the rest of the city and county are strictly road-meets-grass. Unfortunately, that means if you want to take a walk or go for a run, you’re putting yourself in danger of oncoming vehicles.
Luckily, there are some great options for getting your cardio without having to be on the lookout for traffic.
Skip ahead: City of Sanford, Deep River Elementary, Endor Greenway, First Baptist Indoor Track, Kiwanis Park, Old Gilliam Mill, San Lee Park, Tramway Road Park, West Lee Middle, Harnett County (including Raven Rock), and Moore County.
- Brick City Running Tribe (BCRT)
What: Walk or run with others (all age groups) in this community-centered running club. Routes are either 3-, 4-, 5-, or 6-mile loops.
When: 6pm on Tuesdays.
Where: Far corner of Riverburch Shopping Center on Spring Lane, Sanford NC.
- City of Sanford, 225 E. Weatherspoon Street, Sanford NC (back to top)
What: A sidewalk loops around the building, perfect for walking or running. There is a informational marker that will let you know how many loops equal one mile.
- Deep River Elementary School Track, 4000 Deep River Road, Sanford NC (back to top)
What: The school offers a park, walking track, fitness area, and large open field that's open to the public.
- Endor Greenway, Sanford NC (map) (back to top)
What: This newly established, paved walking trail extends from Kiwanis Park (Carbonton Road entrance) to Douglas Drive. It is 1.43 miles from end to end.
Try this: Want to extend your walk? Park in the back lot of the Timberwood Apartments (Wicker Street) and pick up the paved Kiwanis Park greenway trail from there and add another half mile (end to end).
- First Baptist Church, 202 Summit Drive, Sanford NC, 919-776-6137 (back to top)
What: Indoor track on the second floor of the Family Life Center that is open to the public.
Hours: 7am-2pm on Wednesdays and Fridays, 7am-2pm and 5:30-8pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Weekend hours vary.
- Kiwanis Park Fitness Trail, 1800 Wicker Street, Sanford NC (map) (back to top)
What: Kiwanis Park is known for its mile-long fitness and walking loop. There are fitness stations along this unpaved, hilly trail. Note that some of the trail is shaded, but most of it is not.
- Old Gilliam Mill Park, Hwy 42 West, Sanford NC (back to top)
What: While there is no official trail at this historic mill that also boasts an old bridge and kiln, there are plenty of opportunities to get some walking or running in on the 15-acre park.
- San Lee Park Hiking Trail, 572 Pumping Station Road, Sanford NC (info) (back to top)
What: The park offers 4 miles of hiking trails that start at the fishing bridge. The trail to the right is one mile and connects to the Stevens Center. The trail to the left offers fishing access, nice views, and a slightly more difficult terrain.
Do more: Take your bike on the Mountain Bike Trail that winds around the entire park’s perimeter (8+ miles). This a moderate-to-difficult course and is only open during park hours (varies season — usually 7am to sunset).
- Tramway Road Park Trail, 2303 Tramway Road, Sanford NC (back to top)
What: The park offers two walking segments that can be used separately or combined. The longest segment of the trail (two-thirds mile) wraps around the ball field complex and is half concrete, half rock screenings. The other segment (one-third mile) wraps around the pond and is covered with rock screenings.
To park: The park’s lot is off of the main entrance to Southern Lee High School just past the soccer field on the left.
- West Lee Middle School Track, 3301 Wicker Street, Sanford NC (back to top)
What: The school offers a walking track and open field area that's open to the public.
- Cape Fear River Trail Park, 1002 South 13th Street, Erwin NC (map)
What: This new park offers one mile of trails complete with four overlooks and canoe/kayak access. It is located off Hwy 217 South.
Do more: Want to kayak or canoe while you’re there? Get the access lock code from Harnett County Parks and Rec at 910-893-7518.
- Dunn-Erwin Rail Trail, Dunn NC (map)
What: Folks in or near Harnett County can explore this 5.3-mile trail that connects Dunn and Erwin and traverses light industrial, farm, and wetland areas. The corridor is maintained by the City of Dunn.
Get there: You can park, grab a map, and enter the trail where Powell Avenue crosses Ashe Avenue in Dunn. There are other entrance points around Dunn and Erwin.
- Raven Rock State Park, 3009 Raven Rock Road, Lillington NC (map)
What: This park located right outside of Lee County offers a little something for everyone. Loop Trail cuts through a hardwood forest to reach Raven Rock (one mile). There are wooden stairs (100+ steps) that lead down to the base of the rock and access to the river. See other trails and exact mileage here.
Important: Due to rain and renovations, several of the horse trails are closed. Check with the park before you take horses out.
- Pinehurst Greenway Trail, Pinehurst NC (map)
What: The trail offers five miles for walking, running, and bicycling that wind past the Butterfly Center, Rassie Wicker Park, and Canon Park. There are several access points in the area.
- Southern Pines Greenway System, Southern Pines NC (map)
What: Southern Pines offers 11 miles of greenway that are used by local high schools and bike races as well as by those looking for somewhere to walk or run. The greenway system connects several trails, including Nick’s Creek Trail, Forest Creek Trail, Longleaf Trail, and Tall Timber Trail.
Try this: Park at Sandhills Community College to access one of the many trails that cross its campus.