Raleigh’s Capital Area Greenway Trail System

Case Study | Greenway/Trail
Raleigh’s Capital Area Greenway Trail System

Key Findings

  •  Greenway systems allow for increased alternative transportation between natural public spaces.
  •  Greenways provide natural corridors that allow species to migrate between natural habitats in parks,    increasing the chance of survival.
  •  The Capital Area Greenway System demonstrates that a determined group of citizens, when united around a public goal of preserving their neighborhood and city, can successfully work with the government to implement projects that improve the area.

Organization description

Raleigh Parks and Recreation maintains over 9,000 acres of public parkland, connected through the Capital Area Greenway System. Parks and Recreation maintains these facilities, creates and runs programs and classes, develops and implements new projects, and enhances Raleigh’s public spaces through art as well as nature.

Program description

The Capital Area Greenway System is a network of public open spaces and trails connecting Raleigh’s parks and enhancing the opportunities for recreational activities in the parks as well as transportation between them. It began in 1974 when the residents of Raleigh became concerned about rapid urbanization and growth in the area.

There are 28 system trails spanning more than 100 miles, each with unique destinations and features. The Parks and Recreation Department is currently working to create individual web pages for each trail to provide information like detailed maps and parking locations. New trails in the system opened in the fall of 2012 and spring of 2013. Three more trails and an extension to an existing trail are in the design and construction stages and are estimated to be completed by early 2014.

The Design Development Division of the Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for the oversight of the planning and development of the parks and greenway system in Raleigh. They are utilizing the System Plan, a parks and recreation project, to plan and execute the greenway system. The System Plan is a 16-month process designed to shape the direction, development, and delivery of Raleigh’s parks and recreational services, facilities, and programs for the next 20 years.

The RGreenway App is an interactive map application for smartphones created just for the Capital Area Greenway System. This free app provides detailed descriptions of the trails and mileage, an interactive map of the trails, weather reports of the area, and it tracks time and distance traveled for workouts. RGreenway App allows you to check in through FourSquare and uses SeeClickFix to easily report trail maintenance issues.

Capital Area Greenway System permits urban development while preserving Raleigh’s natural beauty, allowing natural corridors between the parks, as well as easy transportation routes among the parks.

Program goals/issues addressed

The major goal of the Capital Area Greenway System is to establish a closed network of interconnected trails in Raleigh.

Timeframe (planning/execution)

Began 1974; the project is ongoing.

Results achieved/impact

The original proponents of the Capital Area Greenway System were concerned about the rapid expansion of Raleigh, especially in flood plains, and the lack of environmental protections related to zoning requirements. Today, Capital Area Greenway System preserves many of Raleigh’s ecological features and provides city-dwellers with better access to natural spaces. With increased accessibility to Raleigh’s parks, the Greenway System allows more residents to participate in outdoor recreational activities and experience nature. Many parts of the Capital Area Greenway System also help control stormwater runoff and aid in floodplain management.

Contact Information:

Raleigh Parks & Recreation
222 W. Hargett Street, 6th Floor
Raleigh, NC  27601
[email protected]



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