Wilson walkers enjoy trail variety

City adding opportunities to stroll, jog and run

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


Whether for fitness or fun, Wilson has a variety of walking opportunities with more trails on the horizon.

“I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the amount of people walking when I go by the Greater Wilson Rotary Park and Lake Wilson,” said Parks and Recreation Director David Lee. “I can feel them getting healthier as they walk around the park. The popularity of Lake Wilson has exploded since the bridge was added and we’re looking to do some really neat things that will make it that much better.

“A lot of people didn’t know anything about Lake Wilson before, but now it is their favorite park in the city.”

Lee said the city has been working to bolster Wilson’s trail system in recent years. During the development of the 2017 parks and recreation master plan, residents expressed a desire for more passive recreation opportunities such as trails.

“Walking trails are very popular. Millennials use it to decompress while the seniors use it for exercise,” Lee said. “Those kinds of opportunities are really satisfying because not all recreation has to be organized, so we’ll keep building the trails and people will keep using them.”

The city has 16 trails ranging from 1/10 of a mile to 3.1 miles and more are in the works. The county and private partners like Wilson Medical Center also have trails.

Keisha Spells lives across town, but drives to Rotary Park every other day and walks four to five miles.

“It is a nice environment and I just love to walk,” Spells said. “There are a lot of people walking and I feel safe.”

Paula Furiness, the wellness coordinator for Wilson Medical Center, said walking is a great step toward healthy living.

“Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intense exercise such as walking per week,” she said. “Exercise recommendations can be met through 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days per week or 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise three days per week.”

Hospital Director of Marketing and Development Lisa Briley said the quarter-mile trail on Tarboro Street was installed in the ‘80s and is used by about 150 people a day depending on the weather. Jerod Lynch said he is at the trail at least four days a week.

“This track has other stations, so usually I’ll run, get my sit-ups in and do push-ups, then run around again,” Lynch said. “A lot of tracks around here don’t have anything to do but run or walk, so I like that I can break it up here with other exercise.”

Meka Spells said she likes the half-mile track at Rotary Park because she doesn’t have to do as many laps to walk three miles. While the track in the planned Toisnot Dog Park will be a quarter-mile, city staff is planning trails up to 3.1 miles as part of a renovation effort of the Wiggins Mill Reservoir Park. The Hominy Creek greenway is more than 4 miles as planned, but the city is working to obtain grant funds to make it a reality.

“We’re also working toward the goal to have one big walking trail system with Toisnot Park and Gillette,” Lee said. “That would be incredible.”

When the trail at the hospital was built, officials said it cost about $3,000 and acknowledged the price tag would be much higher today. The first phase of the greenway along Ripley Road was $200,000, including $99,000 covered by an N.C. Trails grant.

“Trails are a major priority because the city wants to approve quality of life amenities that help us attract more residents to Wilson,” he said. “We want to bridge the gap between us and the Triangle, and from research, we know parks are very important to people. We have some great water-based parks that provide great opportunities for Wilsonians and those interested in moving here.”

Walking Trails Around Wilson

• J. Burt Gillette Athletic Complex, 3238 Corbett Ave., has several trail options ranging from a half-mile to 3.1 miles. Ample parking and bathrooms are available.

• Lake Wilson Reservoir, 4621 Lake Wilson Road, Elm City, has a 2.5-mile trail. There is a portable toilet available with new bathrooms coming later this year.

• Buckhorn Lake, 9140 Johnson Farm Road, Kenly, has a 1.6-mile horse trail that is open to walkers.

• Toisnot Park, 1500 Corbett Ave. NE, has a 1.5-mile trail. There are bathrooms available.

• Westwood Park, 2216 Woodcroft Drive W., has a trail that is 6/10 of a mile. There are bathrooms available.

• Greater Wilson Rotary Park, 1901 Branch St. NW, has a half-mile, paved trail with LED lighting. There are bathrooms available.

• Lane Street Park, 1802 Lane St. SE, has a trail that is 4/10 of a mile.

• Lamm Park, 1149 Stantonsburg Circle SE, has a trail that is 3/8 of a mile. There are bathrooms available.

• Reid Street Park, 901 Reid Street E., has a trail that is 3/8 of a mile.

• Freeman Park, 308 Freeman St. SE., has a trail that is 3/10 of a mile.

• Linear Park, 306 Pender St. E., has a quarter-mile trail.

• Matthis Park, 1015 Forest Hills Road NW., has a quarter-mile trail.

• Warren Street Park, 501 Bruton St. W., has a quarter-mile trail.

• Wilson Medical Center, 1705 Tarboro St. SW, has a quarter-mile trail.

• The Charles Pittman Operations Center, 1800 Herring Ave. E., has a trail that is 1/10 of a mile. There are bathrooms available in the rose garden.

• Weaver-Bailey Park, 2506 Adventura Lane E., has a trail that is 1/10 of a mile.

• Later this year, the city of Wilson plans to add a quarter-mile trail in the dog park at Toisnot Park.

• A greenway also is in the works. So far, about 1/10 of a mile has been built near the Recreation Park Center, 500 Sunset Road NW. The next phase will connect with Williams Day Camp, 515 Mount Vernon Drive NW, but a construction date has not been set.

• In the master plan for 2020, the city plans to add trails to the Wiggins Mill Reservoir Park that will be up to 3.1 miles.