Walking; Duke Forest
As you all know, C loves to walk. So when the weather turned for the better (at least a little bit) and when he started to get stir-crazy, out we went. Since he doesn't care where we walk, but I was interested in a new place to hike, we went to Duke Forest.
I had actually never been there before. It seemed that the most popular and most recommended part of Duke Forest was the Al Buehler Cross Country Trail, so that was what I picked. It was a really lovely hike.
This is definitely more of a hike, though. The path is gravel and dirt, but compact. You could probably make a jogging stroller work fine, but I opted for the carrier this particular trip. There are some serious hills, too. I definitely broke a sweat walking up some of this parts with a baby-on-the-back. But it felt good and those bursts didn't last too long at all.
The path is in the woods, but is right against the golf course for some sections, so you get pretty views of the golf course in all it's manicured glory.
The signs at the trail entrance kind of spooked me; they constantly remind you not to use the trail alone. Did something happen? Is it dangerous? But at that point I was already there and unloaded. So blogger-friends, I will tell you I whipped out my pepper spray and hiked carrying that (I am, afterall, a mommy responsible for someone else, too). But after about a half-mile I felt a little silly. There were many, many people on this path, many of them jogging solo. And there are emergency phones every 1/2 mile or so. And you are right against the golf course, or close to houses that butt up against the Forest. So unless it makes you feel better, you can probably leave the pepper spray behind.
The trail is well marked with mile markers, so you know where you are in the almost-3-mile hike. And the trail is, for the most part, well marked. There is one part where the trail splits: you can go straight ahead, or you can bank hard left and go over a bridge and a creek. The Cross Country Trail goes left, so you have to make sure to catch that. Or else you end up on the Fitness Course, and who wants that? I found I was very glad I had a map (see below for link).The hardest part of this whole adventure was finding the parking lot. But knowing that it isn't marked and is just a gravel side road off of Cameron makes it easier to spot. I decided to park in the first lot off of Cameron, on the right hand side, just past Estes.
No bathrooms, although you do walk right in front of the Washington Duke Inn towards the end (or beginning, depending on which way you take the circle) of your walk.
Kids could do this path easily as the ground is smooth, but before you commit them to the entire thing remember that the loop is 3 miles total to complete all around and there are some hills.
There are occasional water fountains, for people and dogs, along the trail.
Al Buehler Cross Country Trail
select trailheads off of Cameron Boulevard