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Step it Out: 6 Beautiful North Carolina Walking Trails You’ll Love

By Nicole Cantley | April 29, 2015 | Explore NC

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You’ve heard it countless times. Aim to get 10,000 steps a day for good health. We didn’t just pull that magic statistic out of a hat. While that may seem like a large number, the American Heart Association recommends walking 10,000 steps a day to help reduce the risk of heart disease. And there are many other benefits to adding more steps to your day including lowering your body mass index, trimming your waist size and decreasing your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Are you getting 10,000 steps a day? If you’re tired of the treadmill and need a change of scenery, try one or all of these North Carolina walking trails to branch out and boost your step count. Keep in mind that the calculations are rough estimates, assuming that one mile is about 2,000 steps. Since not everyone’s strides are alike, you may rack up even more steps than the ones we’ve calculated here.

American Tobacco Trail – Triangle Area

  • Distance: 22 miles | Steps: 44,000

The American Tobacco Trail stretches more than 22 miles, crossing through Durham, Chatham and Wake Counties.  Walk a single mile on one of the trail’s greenways to get 2,000 steps. Feeling ambitious?  Trek from one end of the trail to the other and rack up 44,000 steps – then, get a friend to pick you up and take your tired feet home!

“Walk of the Week” at the Museum of Life and Science – Durham

  • Distance: 1 mile | Steps: 2,000

We’ve teamed up with Durham’s Museum of Life and Science to launch a new Walk of the Week program, which offers visitors an interactive walking tour throughout the museum’s campus. For example, on a walk you may discover a turtle nesting site, or follow wooly insects that live in the museum’s environment. The featured walking route will rotate each week.

Blue Loop at the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) – Raleigh

  • Distance: 1 mile | Steps: 2,000

Last year, we unveiled Blue Loop, a mile-long trail in America’s largest museum art park. The loop, located on the museum’s 164-acre Raleigh campus, completes a network of recreational trails on NCMA’s campus and connects the Museum Park to the Capital Area Greenway System. The Blue Loop is part of our Get Outside North Carolina! initiative (GO NC!) to offer new opportunities to help North Carolinians get active, reduce obesity rates and control their medical costs. Join us for a shady stroll and check out the fabulous outdoor art that lines the trail.

Salem Lake – Triad

  • Distance: 7 miles | Steps: 14,000

Looking to escape in to nature for an afternoon stroll? Salem Lake hosts a 7 mile trail with a lakeside view the whole way. The trail is relatively flat and shady, so it’s the perfect place to take your family, your dog, or friend for a walk. Take some time out of your day to enjoy this scenic route. If you walk the full 7 mile trail, you’ll hit your 10,000 step goal with steps to spare.

Gary Shell Cross-City Trail – Wilmington

  • Distance: 15 miles | Steps: 30,000

The Gary Shell Cross-City Trail spans 15 miles and is a multi-use trail, so you can add steps to your day, or even bike or rollerblade to achieve active minutes. The trail links to other greenways, offers access to sightseeing at the Cameron Art Museum, the UNC-Wilmington campus, and the trail will even take you all the way to the beach!

Mountains to Sea Trail – North Carolina

  • Distance: 450 miles | Steps: 900,000

If you were to walk the 450 miles of the planned 1,000 miles Mountains to Sea Trail, you would tally about 900,000 steps! That’s no small feat. The trail runs from Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park all the way to Jockey’s Ridge State Park in the Outer Banks. Even if you don’t want to tackle the full trail, you can walk part of it to enjoy some of the best scenery North Carolina has to offer. Find the nearest access point to you here.

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[Top image via the Museum of Life and Science, Adam Kissick Photography]