A short trip on I-40 led me to Chapel Hill for this week’s blog. The Town of Chapel HIll is 23.1 square miles and home to the University of North Carolina. Chapel Hill has 16 parks providing about 1000 acres for active and passive recreation and preserved open space. I had the pleasure of visiting parks with Parks and Recreation Director Jim Orr and Assistant Director Linda Smith. In addition to the visit to Umstead Park, I got to explore Bolin Creek Greenway.
Umstead Park is 19.5 acres and was built in the 1970’s on land donated to the town by the Umstead Family. This park has several shelters, a playground, and three sand volleyball courts. While the town provided the land and equipment to get the volleyball courts started, a community volunteer coordinated the fundraising to build and maintain the courts. He also runs programs at the courts and donates the funds raised to maintain the courts with plans to construct three additional courts. That is a volunteer dedicated to volleyball in the community!
From Umstead Park, we were able to access Bolin Creek Trail. This trail runs along the creek and is just over 2 miles long. When completed, the trial will be about 3 miles. This trail is constructed of concrete and not asphalt as the creek is very close by and is prone to flooding and when it does, the water is usually raging. With concrete being heavier than asphalt, it was the better choice for this trail. I had never really thought about the difference between these two materials before and it was nice to learn something new.
Currently, the constructed greenway ends under a road crossing. Besides the artwork added by citizens, there were handholds from rock climbing added to the walls and ceiling of this underpass. These were not added by the department and I could only assume they were added by climbing enthusiasts in the area.
On the return trip to Umstead Park, I was impressed to see an access point from the street that included stairs on one side of the bridge and a paved ramp on the other side - making the greenway accessible not only to persons with varying physical abilities but also with various forms of transportation.
For more information on Umstead Park visit http://www.townofchapelhill.org/town-hall/departments-services/parks-recreation/facilities-greenways-parks/parks/umstead-park
or Bolin Creek Greenway visit http://www.townofchapelhill.org/town-hall/departments-services/parks-recreation/facilities-greenways-parks/greenways/bolin-creek-trail