I enjoy riding my bike on long trails and greenways where I don’t have to worry about cars and traffic. And while I have traveled hours to ride some of the longer bike trails, like Durham’s American Tobacco Trail and Virginia’s New River and Virginia Creeper trails, I have taken for granted one series of trails in my own backyard.
The Salem Creek Greenway and Salem Lake Trail have long been favorites of walkers, runners and cyclists. But since the opening of the city’s Quarry Park and Waughtown Connector in August 2017 and the Long Branch Trail in April 2018, trail users have access to more than 17 miles of interconnected trails with both urban and more wilderness settings.
Starting from the western terminus at Marketplace Mall, the Salem Creek Greenway passes through Washington Park, the Gateway Nature Preserve and the Gateway area south of Old Salem. Parking areas can be found at Washington Park and near the roundabout at South Main Street (Central Park).
The Strollway, a paved and pebble pathway to downtown, connects to the greenway at the roundabout. Because of Business 40 construction, the Strollway only goes as far as Kaleideum and Willow’s Bistro at this time, but the restaurant makes a good place to stop for lunch.
Continuing along the Salem Creek Greenway, riders pass through Central and Happy Hill parks, then under the new Research Parkway. A spur here leads to the new Long Branch Trail, which parallels the parkway to the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. If you are looking for urban amenities, Krankies, Alma Mexicana and Incendiary Brewing Company can be found just off the Long Branch Trail.
The greenway terrain is mostly flat with the exception of one climb as you approach the Winston-Salem Southbound train trestle near U.S. 52. Riders will find lots of songbirds in the riparian barriers near Winston-Salem State University. Parking is also available at the Reynolds Park picnic shelter and Salem Lake.
Riders looking for more challenging terrain will want to check out the Peachtree Greenway and Waughtown Connector. The Peachtree Greenway connects with Salem Creek Greenway about 200 yards west of Reynolds Park Road. There is no sign, so use the Duke Energy substation is a landmark of where to turn. This greenway takes a jog at Peachtree Street, and then climbs steadily over the next 0.4 mile to connect with the Waughtown Connector and Quarry Park. Be warned that after a quick descent, the trail makes a quad-burning climb, ascending the old quarry road to the quarry rim. Riders are rewarded with one of the best views of the city skyline. Make a point of riding the trail all the way around Quarry Park and out to Marble Street. The beautifully designed trail winds through the mixed pine and hardwood forest.
At the eastern end of the Salem Creek Greenway is the Salem Lake Trail, a 7-mile loop of crushed stone with a couple paved sections around the perimeter of the city reservoir. Mile markers are posted along the route and benches have been installed for rest and places to reflect. Visitors will often find herons wading in the shallows and waterfowl on the water. Look for deer roaming the lake’s woodlands and hawks and owls that use the utility right-of-ways as hunting grounds. Stopping for a drink or ice cream at the lake’s marina is a must on our family outings. Parking for the Salem Lake Trail is available at the city marina and on Linville Road.