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October 17, 2012

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:

The backside of the baseball diamond



The parking lot



The back corner of the parking lot


The entrance to Narnia


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.


This picture is actually from the bottom of the hill, looking backwards.


Sharp right.


Sharp left onto bridge across creek.


Straight on through.


Bumble your way straight through the sand pit to the end of the peninsula


Where the creeks come together, turn left, and go straight up this short, but surprisingly steep, hill.


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:

To the Outdoor Education Center and beyond!


To the Botanical Garden


Back to the harsh realities of the paved world.


Straight on down the road.


Fordham Blvd.


Crossing the Boulevard










5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2012 11:40 am

    Nice fotos! you nailed it!! hope you stopped for the sculpture display at the garden.

  2. October 21, 2012 10:45 pm

    I tried it today. It was pretty rough for me – not sure I actually followed the same trail, but I did come out at the same paved road, I think. I think the street where we came out is next to the house where Dean Smith moved to when he first came to Chapel Hill.

    • October 22, 2012 11:48 am

      There’s a bunch of trails over there, so it’s possible you found an auxiliary trail. This trail is pretty smooth on my bike, but it has 29×2.25 tires, so just about everything feels pretty smooth. I have ridden it on my touring bike with 700×32 tires, and it was doable, but not near as smooth.

  3. October 21, 2012 10:46 pm

    I forgot to thank you for posting this. Thank you!

    • October 22, 2012 11:48 am

      My pleasure. There’s tons of fun trails like this all over town. It’s one of my favorite things about living here.

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