Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Duke Forest Al Buehler CC & Shepherd Nature Trail
Today's journey finds us in Duke Forest at the Shepherd Nature trail and the Al Buehler Cross Country Trail.
We started the afternoon walking the cross country running trail around the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Course. This trail is a little noisy as about half of it parallels Highway 15/501. The trail is nicely groomed with a fine crushed gravel that is really more like light gray sand that is has been compacted. It is an excellent walking surface. Lots of folks run this trail and we saw one bike rider who was just flying. There are some glimpses of the golf course and you walk across the paved entrance to the inn.
There are several side trails and very little signage other than mile and kilometer markers. Somewhere, there is supposedly a paved path to a 32-station fitness course. We didn't see it. All in all, a nice 2.9 mile walk in mostly shade on good surface.
Next, we drove into Duke Forest proper and went to Gate C. The letters and numbers of the gates are hard to see from the road. This is the Shepherd Nature trail that is supposed to be a 0.8 mile loop. Again, not much signage and we got a little confused on which way to go at one point so we just back tracked and got in a little extra walking. There are signs along the trail mostly identifying trees. This trail is a little more rugged in spots than the cross country trail but we easily managed it in running shoes. Boots might be in order after a rain.
We saw deer in 3 different places along the trail and lots of lizards. This trail crosses an access road or two and could use some directional signage but is a nice little walk in the woods. It is always a nice bonus to see deer and other wildlife when hiking in the woods.
For more information, please visit http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/forest/index.html