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North Wake Landfill Park

Wake County has transformed North Raleigh’s “Mount Trashmore” into its newest park. This 36-acre county park is located on a 200-acre site that, up until 2008, was the location of a landfill containing 500 million tons of trash. The trash is still there, but it’s hidden under a playground, trails and one of the highest points in Wake County.

The playground has some nice features – a climbing wall and a rope bridge are stand-outs. And the play areas are separated, so there’s age-appropriate equipment for the younger kids apart from equipment for the older ones. The nearby building houses bathrooms and a water fountain.

I was impressed with the mountain-biking trail at the park. I was expecting it to be pretty watered-down and “safe”, but the 2-mile trail has some decent technical features that should please more-experienced bikers There’s also a ‘skills area’ for honing your abilities that groups several technical features together in a small area.

Paved trails that loop a smaller hill on the property connect to the nearby greenway in Falls River that follows Spring Branch Creek. This is the same greenway that will be part of the Neuse River Greenway that I’ve mentioned a couple of times. The NRG will start at the dam at Falls Lake and continue along the Neuse to the Johnson County line, making connections along the way to the WRAL soccer fields, the Horseshoe Farm Park, Anderson Point Park and the big east-west Raleigh Greenways (Walnut Creek, Crabtree Creek).

If you’re in the mood for a hike (or a short bike), you can go to the top of the grassy hill that dominates the park. At about 470 feet above sea-level, this point will give you a view of downtown Raleigh on a clear day. The trail climbs about 120 vertical feet at an 8-10% grade. It’s a nice little workout.

The strangest feature of the park, though, is a vestige of it’s former use. In the back corner of the park, in an area that’s not open to visitors, there’s a huge torch that burns off excess methane collected from the decaying trash. It’s pretty amazing-looking. And I’ve gotten a couple of questions about smell… During my visit, I didn’t detect any of the “landfill funk” that you could smell when the site was a functioning landfill.

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