A Walk IN THE WOODS
The Wilmington Parks and Recreation webpage lists 41 city
parks. A few of the trails and parks give a feeling of being in the
deep woods. Aside from the calming sights and sounds of nature,
all that shade can also drop the temperature about 6-10 degrees.
Halyburton Park, off 17th Street, offers a fully paved perimeter
loop as well as natural trails to walk in the middle. Signage says the
sandy trails used to be dirt bike paths, a practice stopped to preserve
the natural vegetation. The paved loop is an easy 1.3-mile walk that
is almost fully shaded.
History enthusiasts will enjoy seeing the remnants of small
battle mounds used during the Civil War Battle of Forks Road,
fought Feb. 20-21, 1865.
A true forest walk can be explored in the 10-acre Herbert
Bluethenthal Memorial Wildflower Preserve near the center
of the University of North Carolina
Wilmington campus. The
packed dirt paths wind
through natural forest
and a wetland pond.
describe it as easy
like being in
be a problem, but
it’s worth it to see
native wildflowers and
vegetation in bloom.
“Walking in Bluethen-thal
Wildflower Trail saved our family’s sanity several times during
the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says UNCW English
professor Jennifer Lozano. “It’s a fantastic green space to safely enjoy
nature without having to travel to a remote location. It’s also perfect
for families with little kids who can’t handle much walking (like
The park is located at 4855 Price Drive. Free visitor parking is
available nearby at Lot M off Riegel Road, in the vicinity of Brooks
Field, where Seahawks have played baseball since 1962.
Long Leaf Park (formerly Hugh MacRae Park) offers a 1.5-mile
outer loop and a shorter inner loop, on sidewalks shaded by
magnificent pines. Other walkers are typically in view, but rarely is
it crowded, thanks in part to the various side circuits on the walk
that go past an all-abilities playground, splash pad, baseball fields,
basketball courts, covered picnic shelters and tennis courts.
The most refreshing spot is near the duck pond and gazebo that
has a wooden bridge. Ample parking is scattered throughout the
park, located directly off South College Road and Pine Grove Drive.
Located east of the Aldi on South College Road, the James E.L.
Wade Park is a tiny gem worth a visit for a quick walk. It is the meet-ing
point of several south Wilmington neighborhoods and has few
parking spaces. At 16.5 acres, it is about a third the size of Halybur-ton.
It is ideal for walkers who need wide, flat surfaces. The .6-mile
oblong loop is in full sun, with benches available in the shade. The
park features a wide bridge over a wetland pond filled with turtles.
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