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Written by:  Odile Fredericks
Date: June 27, 2012

One of the hardest things about bring a parent for me is finding time to play with my kids. I don't think I'm alone. Whether you work in your home—cleaning, cooking, teaching or running a business from your home-office—or you commute out daily to your office, at the end of the day, escape for play sometimes seems impossible for many parents. But I've recently found a great escape close to home that offers stress release, exercise, nature exploration and is free! Best of all, my kids actually want to go there!

From dawn to dusk, the Capital Area Greenway Trail, a paved path through the woods, is open, inviting runners, joggers, walkers, skateboarders, fisher men and women, picnickers and nature explorers. I first discovered the trail's entrance a month ago and took off for a 4 ½ mile ride through a cool green canopy of woods with my younger son. Both of my sons came with me on the next two rides, and we rode to end of the trail at Falls Lake Dam.

Along the way, we saw so many people and creatures that fascinated us or made us laugh: There was the mom riding her bike with her two helmeted tots in tow in a bike trailer. The tots were peering outside as they whizzed by us. Blue dragon flies were everywhere along the path. We caught whiffs of the sweet smell of spring grasses and honeysuckle. We saw a doe. We passed a man using an elliptical contraption to ride/glide his way along the path, a mom with a stroller, and two dads with their strollers engaged in discussion. We went down to dip our hands in the Neuse River, which runs along the path, swung in a swing that someone had attached to a tree near the river bank, and watched minnows swim. We saw boys clambering over rocks, fishing poles in hand, and girls swimming.

We stopped now and then to drink our water or read bulletin boards that provided interesting facts, like the purpose of natural river levees. We broke for a late lunch of sandwiches, before continuing up to the end of the trail, where we climbed the Falls Lake Dam to catch a view of the sparkling expanse of water.

I don't recommend doing a long bike ride with young kids, but what's great about the greenway is that you can go at your own pace, stop when you please and choose your favorite exercise. From the moment you step into the trail, you'll be amazed at the quiet and cool retreat the woods offer from the hustle and bustle of daily life.



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