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Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill

Trail Reviews for Chapel Hill as submitted by trianglemtb.com guests

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CategoryAverage Rating
Overall :   4.1 / 5.0   based on 45 votes
Technical :   3.4 / 5.0   based on 45 votes
Climbing :   3.0 / 5.0   based on 45 votes
Freeride :   1.9 / 5.0   based on 45 votes
Scenery/Wildlife :   3.8 / 5.0   based on 45 votes
Flow :   3.3 / 5.0   based on 36 votes



Chapel Hill trail has been reviewed 45 times by our trianglemtb.com guests.

Reviewed by:hitejp
Reviewed on:06/16/2017
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Had a lot of fun out here last night but navigation is a bit tricky. Trails markings are spotty at best.

Great map here:
http://facilities.unc.edu/files/2015/12/Carolina-North-Trail-Map.pdf

Between the markings that are on the trails and this map you should find your way around much easier.
Reviewed by:JordanA
Reviewed on:06/04/2017
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I'm biased, particularly because these trails are where I learned to ride mountain bikes, but they offer some of the best (IMO), riding in the area. They aren't wide open, smooth flow trails like Crabtree, Brumley, or Harris, but rather are undulating rooty and rocky trails which, if ridden with someone who knows them fairly well, can have a good bit of flow.

There are a few punchy climbs on both the airport and school sides, and they tend to be very rooty and rocky, which requires a little bit of body English and bike maneuvering to climb successfully. The descents are fun, winding, tight, obstacle laden (large root balls, rocks, etc) routes that you can go fast on and really have some fun hopping and bump jumping.

If riding the airport side, I prefer counter clockwise (although I do ride both ways pretty often) starting on wormhole near seawell school, and connecting to either the inner or outer never land loops. I then hit the crow branch overlook and take it back to the never land loop, and then back to wormhole to finish the ride. This usually nets about 6-7 miles and incorporates a good amount of the trails, but you could spend an entire afternoon out there and rack up some good mileage while riding some new stuff all day.

The school side is also great fun, and has more things like log overs and similar obstacles, and even a really fun downhill with two single track trails running side by side if you've got a buddy with you and are feeling like a little friendly competition. The school side isn't as flowy as the airport side overall, but I still enjoy it for its technical terrain. It can be a little more difficult to navigate on this side, though, and the trail markers are... Well, non-existent. Take a map!
Reviewed by:mdematties
Reviewed on:04/19/2017
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Great set of trails for the beginner/intermediate rider. Not to crowded, good signage and variety throughout this side.

Wormhole starting from the south side is technical and knobby and gets progressively more flowey as you ride it. Cow branch offers a lot of flow and some good short climbs and technical batches that popup and remind you to always check your line! Never Land lives up to its name and utilizes the train well!
Reviewed by:tidal71
Reviewed on:04/26/2015
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It is great to have so many miles of trail within the city limits. However, there is very little flow, climbs, and, aside from roots, nothing very technical. These are multi-use trails, so watch for hikers/trial runners, especially on the airport side. Easy to get temporarily lost if you are not well familiar with the trials.
Reviewed by:Special Jack
Reviewed on:02/06/2015
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Trail has fire roads for easy rides. Harder technical sections on single track. Please be considerate of other trail users. The trail system is used by many. Climbs are short with a few steep climbs. Lots of roots and rocks are fun for intermediate riders but may frustrate beginners.
Reviewed by:timkgray
Reviewed on:01/21/2015
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This is a review of Wormhole, on the airport side; more to come as I get to know other trails at Carolina North Forest.

Overall, I liked Wormhole a lot more than my numbers suggest. It's tight, twisty singletrack--watch out or you'll catch a bar on a tree--with lots of roots and rocks, enough big log and stream crossings to keep you alert and a few (though not v. many) chances to get some air off of obstacles. As some other folks have pointed out, the trail's so tight and twisty in places that it's hard to get much flow. But I got my heart rate up and felt like I got a decent workout, in addition to having a lot of fun. This place will polish your bike-handling skills.

It's nearly impossible to get turned around on Wormhole because it mostly runs between a RR track and one of the main CNF dirt roads; if you hit the RR bed or the road, you know you've accidentally taken one of the side trails. And if, for whatever reason, you need to bail, you can just zip back on the dirt road at a lot of points.

I live in Carrboro, so part of what I loved about the trail and CNF generally was the convenience. It's a 10-minute ride, max, from my house--being able to ride out the door is a big bonus.

All in all, I probably wouldn't drive to the Hole from Durham or Raleigh. But for locals, Wormhole--and I'm assuming CNF--offer a great fun-to-hassle ratio.
Reviewed by:beachcruiser
Reviewed on:12/29/2014
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Had alot of fun on this trail. The map is hard to read but after figuring out where I was had alot of high speed fun
Reviewed by:HazzMatt
Reviewed on:12/03/2014
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Amazing! My favorite single track in the area. Good combination of flow, obstacles, and scenery.
Reviewed by:fathippo
Reviewed on:08/01/2014
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Lots of tight spots (i.e. trees)to maneuver, but the trails still have a good flow. A good amount of trials to ride. There were quite a number of joggers sharing the trails. The trails are not well marked and since I am not familiar with the trails on the airport side I did lose my bearings. I recommend taking UNCs map.
Reviewed by:time2ride
Reviewed on:10/06/2013
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I have only ridden most of the airport side so far but I think it is a great trail. Some tight spots and some technical parts but nothing too crazy. Trails cross fire roads every so often which is nice in case you need to bail or have bike issues. About a 30 minute drive from the triangle but worth the drive. If you ride crabtree or harris and want to step it up a few notches, give this trail a try.
Reviewed by:grinch
Reviewed on:09/08/2013
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I took the Wormhole out from the school and did all of Crow Branch, taking the Vine back. What a great ride! After doing New Light a few weeks back and having trouble maintaining flow due to frequent climbs and sharp turns on a bed of soft pine needles (as well as getting hopelessly lost because none of the maps seemed to match up with reality), Wormhole and Crow Branch were a breath of fresh air.

Don't get me wrong—these are some gnarly trails (literlly: full of gnarled roots). It'll rattle your bones. But that's exactly what I crave: I love me some roots and rock gardens. Give me something I can lock up my back tire and slide around on. These trails delivered plenty of both. (Note: you can NOT eat a Cliff bar while you bike this loop; you will need both hands on the bars. :-))

Another great thing about this trail system (at least the Airport side—I haven't tried the other yet) is the frequency of cutback points. You can take a beginner friend out—or go out yourself on a time budget—and have constant opportunities to bail out on smooth fire roads.

A note on route planning: I tried Crow Branch counter-clockwise at first, starting from the northmost point. Within 2 tenths, it became clear that it was meant to be ridden in the other direction: I kept hitting impassable walls and having to climb up jumps that would have been a lot more fun in the other direction. Once I turned around, everything was golden. So remember: clockwise is the key!

My only regret was that I was unable to maintain enough speed to catch air on any of the jumps. It's a gloriously twisty-turny trail with lots of narrow dodges between neighboring trees, a great place to break an arm or eat a trunk if you're reckless. But jumpabilty doubtless improves with familiarity, and I'll definitely be going back again and again.
Reviewed by:bikin_dave
Reviewed on:03/24/2013
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I rode the airport side yesterday with my 10 yr old son. I would consider this an intermediate trail (more difficult than Crabtree or Harris Lake). It has some short steep hills and several logs across the trails. Definitely a fun ride but watch out for joggers and people walking their dogs. A map will come in handy. I found detailed maps here:

http://www.fac.unc.edu/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=-nOpSF771Yc%3d&tabid=727&mid=1717
Reviewed by:Gecam
Reviewed on:08/03/2012
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I rode the school side for the first time last week, and the airport side today. My main comment is that the marking is very scarce, especially in the school side. I came today with the printed map (http://www.fac.unc.edu/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=-nOpSF771Yc%3d&tabid=727&mid=1717), which has been very helpful to clarify some intersections.
Apart from that, trails are quite fun ; those giving priority to the flow should stay on the school side, the airport side being more technical (you have to be technically good to never put your feet off the pedal). I liked the alternation between roots/rocks/sharp turns/steep climbs/narrow parts. There is some places where you can go quite fast, even if it's right that you have to always control your speed to not be surprised by one of the many tricky difficulties. No possibilities for big jumps, but some funny small gaps however.
Reviewed by:karldoog
Reviewed on:01/23/2012
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I came to these trails as basically a "noob" on a @200 Walmart dual-suspension rather-heavy bike. I thought these trails were GREAT FUN! These are the first trails around Chapel Hill that I've ridden, so I have nothing to compare them to, so my observations are based on a completely unbiased viewpoint.

The airport side is a blast--there are alot of semi-technical trails; nothing TOO hard, although there are some bigger hills to navigate up and down out by the "pond". There are also some cool wooden track things that remind me of old roller coaster tracks without the rails that are fun to ride.

There ARE some gnarly rock-trails, but even on my cheap Wallyworld bike, I could navigate them well enough at slower speed--but then again, I"m not out there to beat any records. I ride for casual/serious fitness, but I'm not taking any chances on breaking either my bike or my bones. So for that kind of attitude and approach, I found, and continue to find these trails just about perfect. There's enough variety of trails and beautiful sections to prevent them from feeling "old". I've ridden there about 6-7 times now, and can't wait for them to dry out so I can try out my new HardRock '29'er!
Reviewed by:dman1123
Reviewed on:01/02/2012
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I personally didn't really like this trail. It passed through way too many narrow openings between trees making it really difficult to get any kind of flow going. It was technical in the sense that you have to have good balance to slowly navigate through tight spaces, especially on the airport side. I think the school side was slightly better in terms of flow and the intersections there were somewhat easier to understand than the maze on the airport side. Also, the constant flow of people walking or running on the trails gets really annoying after a while. IMO Briar Chapel is the better option if you are in the area.
Reviewed by:dman1123
Reviewed on:01/02/2012
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I personally didn't really like this trail. It passed through way too many narrow openings between trees making it really difficult to get any kind of flow going. It was technical in the sense that you have to have good balance to slowly navigate through tight spaces, especially on the airport side. I think the school side was slightly better in terms of flow and the intersections there were somewhat easier to understand than the maze on the airport side. Also, the constant flow of people walking or running on the trails gets really annoying after a while. IMO Briar Chapel is the better option if you are in the area.
Reviewed by:L_GT
Reviewed on:09/12/2011
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To add to what FS_Clydesdale is saying, I rode the Okkaneechee and the Lowland trails yesterday (school side) , it was a lot of fun but yet again the intersections are very confusing and we ended up basically mixing the 2 trails. It's still OK, we rode on several beautiful sections , especially the lowland 2-6 and the Okkaneeche dual-slalom section, very interesting. Also, the section that is reported as CLOSED on the map in this site it's actually open, quite technical, steep, with jumps, and it ends up alongside the railroad.
Reviewed by:FS_Clydesdale
Reviewed on:09/12/2011
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Rode CNF for the first time and was bewildered by the shear number of intersections, spent too much time with the Hand drawn map posted here and got turned around way too much to enjoy the trails on the school side. We jumped across the road and realized we should have been on the Airport Side all day! Flow was so much better but we wasted too much time with the School side maze to explore deep into the Airport side. We are hitting CNF again this weekend and will head straight into the Airport side. Also, of note, the traffic of pedestrians on the School side added to the frustrations. Much less ped traffic on the single-tracks of the Airport side. Spent some time cropping and arranging the Carolina North Forest Map posted below by L_GT hopefully this will help decreased stoppage time and increased trail bombing time. http://tinyurl.com/63ljdwd
Reviewed by:murr
Reviewed on:08/31/2011
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Rode CNF the other day for the 3rd time in as many yrs.. It's a lot of fun if you stick to the original trail system. There are way to many trails that other riders have burned and the majority suck. I feel like I've riden pretty much everything around here, even the trails we dare not speak of. CNF has more variety than any other trail system I've riden in the Triangle. From flowy to technical. From smooth to rocky. Pretty much everything and a lot of terrain to cover. Definitely worth the trip from Raleigh to Chapel Hill every once in a while. While your in the area if you have the energy you can checkout Briar Chapel. Another decent trail with a lot of potential.
Reviewed by:L_GT
Reviewed on:08/22/2011
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I forgot to add the link to the map:

http://www.fac.unc.edu/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=-nOpSF771Yc%3d&tabid=727&mid=1717
Reviewed by:L_GT
Reviewed on:08/22/2011
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I am a beginner, got a bike last month and started riding the CH trails, basically in my backyard. A lot of fun, actually. Of the 3 main sectors (School-side, Airport/Neverland, Airport/Crow Branch), the last is the most fun, and technical, if I believe my "advanced" friends. Wiped out only twice so far. The School side is a bit chaotic, with the trails not marked well and intersecting each other and the fire lines way too often. The Airport side is way more fun. The Wormhole , starting from waypoint #1 down allows you to get some nice flow here and there, with several bridges and berms to make it fun. Neverland has a nice mix of technical sections and flow-inducing part. The Crow Branch Overlook is varies wildly, and has a bit of everything. There is a beautyful section that zig-zags between young pine trees that is a lot of fun. A couple of killer-uphills, rocky and rooty, followed by fast, if narrow, downhills. I have got a detailed map from the Carolina North Forest website, it makes you appreciate the effort made to serve the trails to users. I am afraid the map shown on this review of CH is just not detailed enough and does not give you the idea of how nice this trail is.
Reviewed by:3ZKL
Reviewed on:11/17/2010
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Reviewed by:xterraman
Reviewed on:08/28/2010
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I'd never ridden these trails before today. I ended up riding two of the singletrack sections on the school side. I've ridden most of what the Triangle has to offer and I really didn't enjoy these trails very much. I liken them to Harris Park but with tighter turns, more roots, and more miles. It's difficult to get good flow/momentum going and though it seemed as though the trails were well marked in many places they were not.

I suppose I'll go back sometime and try some of the other trails at Chapel Hill but my first experience was kind of dull. I much prefer to ride at Beaver Dam, New Light, and San Lee.
Reviewed by:Scottyb
Reviewed on:08/21/2010
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easy to get to, challenging if you want it to be, and plenty to explore. i like to warm up on the doubletrack and then do a few singletrack rides. there is a nice mix of quiet pine stands and rough, narrow rock gardens. the trails are mostly hardpack or gravel with a coating of pine needles. i enjoyed the man-made elements thrown in as well.

hard to beat if you're in the chapel hill/carrboro area.
Reviewed by:djmlibra79
Reviewed on:07/26/2010
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I am just getting back into mountain biking as a hobby and so I decided to start off on this trail system since it is close to where I work. I rode about 3 miles on the trail called the "Wormhole". I must say that I was very impressed with the trail. It is definitely more challenging than I had been expecting, but in a good way. I especially love the bridges on the trail. Now I am motivated to get my self back in shape so I can conquer the rest of the trails!
Reviewed by:jwest
Reviewed on:05/21/2010
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Reviewed by:delabeta
Reviewed on:04/10/2010
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I went over today again and it was fantastic. Rode over a couple of drops at top speed, climbed, relaxed on the double-track and in one of the singletrack loops we even got to see a deer standing 20 foot away from us.

It was a fantastic ride and is so far my preferred biking spot in the triangle area.
Reviewed by:joshcamp
Reviewed on:04/07/2010
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I enjoyed riding this trail. You can really rack up on miles and hardly see any other riders. If you are into wild life I would highly recommend riding here. While I was riding I came around a curve and almost ran into a deer. I am not sure who was more scared the deer or myself. This trail has a great flow and enough obstacles to make it interesting. I will definitely be riding here again.
Reviewed by:delabeta
Reviewed on:04/03/2010
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It has some pretty cool singletracks. You only get to meet a couple of other riders in the trails.
Reviewed by:Forkliftdaddy
Reviewed on:09/28/2009
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Reviewed by:a100mark
Reviewed on:07/31/2009
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As an intermediate female rider this trail has much to offer. Depending on what I feel like riding, I can map my route accordingly. When we take the Trips For Kids - Triangle groups out on rides, this is always our trail system of choice. Not only does it accommodate beginner riders, it also has enough challenges to keep our better riders entertained.
If there can be such a trail, I would nominate this as the best "one size fits all" trail system in the area.
Reviewed by:JMyers
Reviewed on:07/28/2009
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Reviewed by:Stumpjumper
Reviewed on:07/09/2009
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Reviewed by:senderodechivo
Reviewed on:05/31/2009
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Reviewed by:edoiron
Reviewed on:05/30/2009
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Reviewed by:vulcangreen
Reviewed on:04/27/2009
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One of the best things about the Chapel Hill trail system is also one of the worst things about it. Until recently, it was totally unregulated and there are trails cut everywhere. On the school side, things are a bit easier to navigate since it is surrounded by a fire road next to the creek, Estes Rd on one side and Sewell School Rd on the other side. You can always make it to one of these roads if you are lost. If you don’t have a guide, you might initially find it a little boring if you ride the best marked trails. However, there are some really technical sections and one of the hardest hill climbs in the Triangle. You just have to go out there and poke around to find them.

Being along the stream, there are some very picturesque spots so you will be able to get your wildlife fix.
Reviewed by:Ridge Runner
Reviewed on:04/04/2009
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A decent trail system. Extra points for how many miles you can rack up. Not sure it is worth the drive if other trails are open closer to home. Was hoping for freeride, but only found the scraps of what used to be there.
Reviewed by:slirty
Reviewed on:03/18/2009
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Reviewed by:Carlman
Reviewed on:03/08/2009
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This is the best overall trail in the Triangle. It has rocky sections, smooth sections, technical and non-technical climbs, good elevation changes, and 20+ miles of trail that's away from cars and such... There is a train that comes through on occasion to remind you civilization is nearby. ;) I also like that the trails follow the natural lay of the land and offer unique challenges... unlike so many trails that are just zig-zag trails that are boring.

I'd give this trail a 5 in relation to current Triangle trails. But in relation to trails in Western NC and other areas in the Mid-Atlantic, I have to go no more than a 4. Also, I don't know what 'freeride' is. It's singletrack with hills and thrills. Enjoy it before it gets developed into a school building or strip mall.

-Carl
Reviewed by:SMAK
Reviewed on:03/06/2009
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Reviewed by:edoiron
Reviewed on:03/03/2009
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Reviewed by:Jack
Reviewed on:03/03/2009
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Reviewed by:Bmateo
Reviewed on:03/01/2009
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Reviewed by:MarkMTB
Reviewed on:03/01/2009
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Reviewed by:trianglemtb
Reviewed on:01/24/2009
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These trails are a very fun trail system with a bit of a split personality. The trails on the school side are quite a bit more technical and the climbs steeper than those across the tracks on the airport side. Ride both sides if you want to rack up some nice singletrack miles. Almost all of the freeride oriented stuff has been removed is fallen into a poor state, so don't expect much air time or tricky skinnies. I see deer almost every time I ride these trails and often see turtles and other animals.

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