The Pleasant-Estes Park shortcut highlighted on this blog last week doesn’t require any special equipment and is supremely practical, but if you ride a bike with medium to fat tires, the spectrum of potential routes in and around Chapel Hill can be amplified to include paths that are less practical, but more fun!
In this category of longcuts, the unpaved OWASA access road that connects the east side of UNC’s campus to the Botanical Garden on Fordham Blvd. is one of our greatest hidden treasures.
A bit more convoluted than the Pleasant-Estes Park shortcut, it is best explored with an open schedule.
There are actually several ways to enter this small network of trails, but the easiest entrance to find is in the southeast corner of the parking lot just behind the baseball diamond off of Ridge Rd:
From this entrance, the path drops quickly downhill and along a drainage pipe before taking a sharp right and paralleling a small creek called The Meeting of the Waters.
From the top of the hill, there is a route to the Outdoor Education Center on your left, and a route to the Botanical Garden on your right: