Spring in the Triangle means it’s time to take advantage of one of the area’s great resources. Warm temperatures and sunny weather mean that area residents can enjoy the outdoors, and the Triangle is home to dozens of parks and trails to explore and enjoy. Parks in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area offer something for everyone: Nature lovers, joggers, dog walkers, cyclists, hikers or just someone looking for a relaxing spot to enjoy their lunch hour.

The sheer number of options can be a challenge, however. Which is the best spot to get in a long run? Or to bring young children? Or to see turtles?

That’s where we come in. Over the spring and summer months, we’ll be sending correspondents around the Triangle to give comprehensive, unbiased evaluations of the best places parks and trails in the area. We’ll divide it into categories, to allow you to check the rankings based on your own interests. In other words, this will be a one-stop spot for outdoor information.

THE CATEGORIES

Parks and trials will be evaluated and ranked in the following areas.

Exercise: Are there running trails that offer a variety of workouts–from short, relaxing jogs to longer, more strenuous workouts? Are there trails where it’s possible to cycle, roller blade?

Nature: How secluded is the setting? What birds, small mammals, fish, turtles or deer can you expect to see in a natural setting?

Pets: Are dogs welcome? Are there facilities to aid dog walkers (garbage cans, bag dispensers)? Are dog owners well-behaved on this park/trail?

Children: Are there suitable areas for children? Playgrounds? Picnic areas? Trails at a suitable difficulty level for small, young legs?

Hiking: Are there a variety of lengths and difficulty levels? How well are the path markings and pathways kept up? How is the payoff (scenic views, etc.)?


THE REVIEWS

Stores and scores are listed, by category, below. Click on each image for evaluations and reviews based on that interest (links will be live, starting with EXERCISE, week of May 8):