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Clayton Dedicates Newest Link in Mountains to Sea Trail

03/09/2013

Explore Clayton's Newest Trail

Maybe you'd like to strap on a helmet and embark on a 32-mile scenic trek from Clayton to Falls Lake Dam in Raleigh. Perhaps you'd like to get your children away from the TV and give them a breath of fresh air riding their bicycles along the sparkling Neuse River. Or maybe you just need some quality family time to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the picturesque view from the pedestrian bridge spanning the river.

Clayton Bridge over water with trees off in the distance

The Town of Clayton is celebrated ALL those possibilities as we officially dedicated the exciting new Clayton River Walk on the Neuse in April 2013. It's a beautiful section of winding trail that is soon to be part of the 1,000-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which will connect Clingman's Dome in North Carolina's Great Smokey Mountains National Park to Jockey's Ridge State Park all the way at the coast. Clayton's section has also been designated as part of the 2,500-mile East Coast Greenway that will extend from Maine to Florida, linking cities in every state on the eastern seaboard.

For years, this trail was only winding through the imaginations of volunteers and town planners, but wonderful partnerships on the federal, state and local level have now made it a reality. At a time when children are six times more likely to play a video game than ride a bike, these leaders have made expanding greenways and outdoor opportunities for families a priority. Trails are THE most requested amenity by the public. That's because people know they provide so many benefits: they get you outside to walk, run, ride, or paddle; they connect you to nature; they link cities to small towns and industrial areas to parks, and they add quality of life improvements that help attract visitors, residents and businesses. Bottom line...they just make North Carolina a healthier and better place to live.

Clayton River Walk on the Neuse is a 4-mile, 10-foot wide paved trail that begins at the Wake County/Johnston County line and parallels the Neuse River under Covered Bridge Road.  It was expertly constructed by North Carolina Department of Transportation for roughly $3.6 million, most of which was federal funding. It connects with the recently completed Sam's Branch Greenway, a 1.25 mile 10-foot-wide paved multi-purpose trail which was also made possible with $600,000 in funding from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.  Sam's Branch is about to be adorned with a gorgeous butterfly public art project involving a local artist and school children.

To ease access to these trails, the Town of Clayton just finished a trailhead/parking lot and access ramp at the intersection of the Neuse River and Covered Bridge Road. It was made possible by grant money from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Water Quality. Even on a chilly Saturday afternoon, there's rarely an empty parking spot in the 40+ spaces lot!

These greenways also provide a safe way for families to criss cross the state.  Clayton has gone the extra mile to ensure that safety. The Clayton Police Department does regular patrols on a four-wheeled ATV along the trail route. In addition, the Clayton Fire Department and Planning Department worked diligently to map the trail and designate addresses along the route so that if someone makes a 911 call from the trail, their location would immediately be pinpointed by emergency responders. 

The incredible outdoor and recreation opportunities don't stop there.  The Town of Clayton was able to purchase a tract of land just adjacent to the trail and river that includes some of the oldest and most beautiful forest land in the state.  It was made possible thanks to a $300,000 grant from the NC Parks & Recreation Trust Fund and a Parks & Recreation bond referendum passed by voters in 2008.  The public is already involved in helping plan a multi-dimensional park on the 120 acre site to possibly include an outdoor amphitheater, special needs playground, camping, even a zip-line across the river. 

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