American Tobacco Trail

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American Tobacco Trail
2008-07-23 American Tobacco Trail terminus in Durham.jpg
American Tobacco Trail terminus in Durham
Length22.6 mi (36.4 km)
LocationNorth Carolina
Trailheadsacross Morehead Avenue from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park to Ragan Rd., Wake County

Coordinates: 35°59′25.71″N 78°54′22.75″W / 35.9904750°N 78.9063194°W / 35.9904750; -78.9063194 (American Tobacco Trail)

The American Tobacco Trail (ATT) is a 22.6-mile (36.4 km) long Rails-to-Trails project located in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina, running along an abandoned railroad bed originally built for the American Tobacco Company in the 1970s. The route crosses through the City of Durham, Durham County, Chatham County, and Wake County. The ATT is part of the East Coast Greenway and is open to pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians (in non-urban sections) and other non-motorized users.

Starting from the southern end of the trail in New Hill the 6.5 mile Wake County portion of the trail is gravel, followed by a 4.7-mile multi-use section in Chatham County that contains a paved lane & a gravel (equestrian lane), & an 11.4-mile paved section in Durham County on the North End of the trail ending at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP).

The 4.7-mile Chatham County section of the trail was built, and is managed, by the Town of Cary (which resides in both Wake and Chatham counties).


Durham County[edit]

The ATT begins in the city of Durham across Morehead Avenue from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The trail is a 10-foot (3.0 m) wide asphalt paved greenway with loose gravel shoulders. It is open to walkers, cyclists, rollerbladers and wheelchair users, but not equestrians.

The American Tobacco Trail runs through the city of Durham to the Chatham county line. This segment of the ATT is a designated portion of the East Coast Greenway. A pedestrian bridge was erected over I-40 in April 2013, connecting the northern and southern segments of the Durham County portion of the trail, but due to construction errors did not open until February 2014.[1][2]

Chatham County[edit]

Typical section of the ATT in Chatham County.

The ATT trail traverses 4.7-mile (7.6 km)[3] in Chatham County. Once the trail crosses into Chatham county, the trail converts to a dual surface of asphalt and compacted screenings. The trail is open for foot, bike and equestrian use by TRTC. The trail crosses Northeast Creek and O'Kelly Chapel Road, past the Old Chatham Golf Course. It also traverses the end of Pittard Sears Road, Panther Creek, and continues past New Hope Church Road.

The ATT crosses Panther Creek in Chatham County.

Wake County[edit]

The ATT traverses 6.4 miles (10.3 km)[4] in Wake County. The 4.7 mile Chatham County portion of the ATT is approximately 10-foot (3.0 m) wide with a granite screening surface. The trail is open to hikers, cyclists, wheelchair users and equestrians. Users can access this portion of the greenway most conveniently at 2575 New Hope Church Rd, Cary, NC.

In total, 16.1 miles (25.9 km) of continuous paved trail is usable in the northernmost portion and 6.5 miles (10.5 km) of continuous unpaved trail is usable in the southernmost portion.


J.B. Duke founded the American Tobacco Company in 1890, which subsequently acquired the Lucky Strike Company and over 200 other firms. The company built processing plants and warehouses in Durham which were served by several rail lines built in 1905. The rail line to the south which is now the ATT, connected from Durham to Bonsal, NC and onwards to Duncan. It was known as the New Hope Valley Railway and later Durham & South Carolina (it never got as far as SC), and later became part of the Norfolk Southern Railway system.[5] In the 1970s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Jordan Lake reservoir in Chatham County necessitating the relocation of a large portion of the tracks. A portion of the original right-of-way is presently a natural surface trail accessible off of Stagecoach Rd. in Durham.[6] A new rail line was built on higher ground a few miles to the east. However, only about 10 years later, the tracks were removed from this new railroad as Norfolk Southern had been bought out, and trains could access the American Tobacco complex via the Southern Railway more economically.[7] In the 1980s the Triangle Rails to Trails Conservancy (TRTC) was formed to preserve the corridor as a multi-use trail and developed a Master Plan for the ATT in 1992. Since then, work has progressed at a moderate pace to develop the trail for pedestrian, bicycle, and equestrian use.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "American Tobacco Trail bridge over I-40 opens in Durham". News & Observer. 20 February 2014. Archived from the original on 8 March 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  2. ^ "2012 American Tobacco Trail and Bridge (SW-24)". City of Durham. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  3. ^ Tobacco Trail Brochure: Archived 2009-10-07 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Tobacco Trail Brochure: Archived 2009-10-07 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ New Hope Valley Railway & NC Railroad Museum
  6. ^ Archived 2010-06-01 at the Wayback Machine Accessed May 31, 2010
  7. ^ The American Tobacco Trail Archived 2007-11-02 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]