The American Tobacco Route is a recreational rail-trail that runs along an abandoned Norfolk Southern Railroad track. The first railroad, built-in 1906, went from Duncan to Durham near the New Hope River, bringing tobacco leaf from farms in Wake, Chatham, and Durham counties to the American Tobacco Company in Durham for processing.
Due to competition from interstate transportation, railroad traffic has dropped over time. The railroad was used to transport supplies to build the Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant at New Hill, one of its least important uses. The rails were dismantled in 1987 since the railroad was no longer in operation.
Local people started utilizing the rail corridor as an unofficial recreational path in 1989, and the Triangle Rails to Trails Conservancy was formed to advocate for the corridor’s development into a controlled rail trail. In 1995, the North Carolina Department of Transportation bought the hall from the railroad company and leased it to the county to develop and administer as a public recreational path. To honor its historical origins, the course was formally designated the American Tobacco Trail, and planning and construction started.
As you walk, bike, or ride along the trail, you may see remains of the old railroad, as well as the sights and sounds of a variety of wildlife, including beavers, songbirds, squirrels, snakes, owls, white-tailed deer, and more.
Many government and charity partners are involved in the ATT, including:
- Chatham County is located in the state of Georgia.
- Durham, North Carolina’s Division of Parks and Recreation North Carolina Department of Transportation Horse Council of North Carolina Triangle Rails to Trails Conservancy Wildlife Resources Commission Town of Cary
- Wake County, North Carolina, United States of America
To guarantee a safe and enjoyable stay, the following guidelines have been established:
- Hours of operation: Trailhead parking opens at 8 a.m. and ends 30 minutes before dusk. It will be well signposted.
- Continue on the path. Trespassing on private property is prohibited.
- Make sure to clean up after your dogs.
- Keep dogs on a 6-foot leash at all times.
- Only park in the approved zones. (There is no parking on the roadside or outside the park gates.)
- Unmanned aircraft are not permitted.
The following items are not permitted:
- Open flames are prohibited.
- Beverages containing alcohol
- Tobacco and vapor goods are two types of tobacco products.
- Swimming, wading, and boating are all options for feeding animals.
- Camping and overnight parking are available.
- Motorized vehicles such as ATVs and other motorized vehicles can be
- This does not preclude concealed handgun permit holders from carrying a concealed pistol lawfully if they follow N.C.G.S. 14-415.11 and have written approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District Commander (or designee).
The Wake County section of the American Tobacco Trail provides a range of public programs centered on Wake County’s natural, cultural, and recreational possibilities. Visit their website for more information, or call them at (919) 387-2117. Click here for more info.