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Posted on: February 26, 2020

Rewarding River Walks

Rewarding River Walks: North Carolina

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The Yadkin River Greenway was a complete surprise. The greenway’s website shows the North Wilkesboro segments of the trail to be located close to city streets. Yet, we found the pathways to be, for the most part, passing through wonderfully preserved green spaces.

The unpaved 1.3-mile Jefferson Turnpike section begins off Northwest Reservoir Road to follow narrow Reddies River downstream. We were here in mid-spring and the nearly-grown leaves of sycamore and poplar trees essentially blocked out any traffic noise, giving the illusion we were in a deep forest.

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Jeanette Runyon

While parts of the Yadkin River Greenway make their way through the streets of North Wilkesboro, much of it meanders through preserved green spaces.

We stopped for a break beside something I had never seen before, a tree with eight trunks—which we dubbed the “octotree.” Multitudes of butterflies gathered around small puddles, a muskrat startled us when it slid into the river and a pair of wood ducks floated by.

Our walk, in fact, soon became a birding excursion.  A black and white warbler walked up and down a tree trunk foraging for insects, while an unseen ovenbird called out its distinctive teacher! teacher! teacher!

The Jefferson Turnpike section is connected to the Mulberry Fields portion of the greenway via a few city blocks. It’s still beside the Reddies River, but the nature of the outing changed. Now paved, the 1.9-mile pathway was bordered by open fields of tall corn stalks. No longer walking among trees, we were exposed to a great expanse of sky, enabling us to keep birdwatching. Turkey vultures circled overhead, a red-tailed hawk soared high above them and a couple of eastern meadowlarks were perched on top of the stalks.

A footbridge across the river enticed us to take a detour of less than a mile roundtrip to Brushy Mountain Smokehouse and Creamery. True to its name, the restaurant served a tasty pork barbeque and house-made ice cream. (Mine was chocolate cherry and Laurie’s was Butterfinger extreme.)

Back on the trail, the pathway began paralleling the slightly larger Yadkin River. Birding was replaced by people watching as we encountered increasing numbers of joggers, walkers and families of bicycle riders.

The greenway came to an end next to the WRMC Wellness Center with more than a dozen pieces of outside exercise equipment. Despite having just walked several miles, Laurie couldn’t resist working out on the rowing and elliptical machines.

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