The Nat Greene Trail hugs the Lake Brandt shoreline for 3.6 miles, winding through Piedmont woodlands for lake vistas and options to increase running distance on connecting hiking and mountain biking trails.
Double the distance of this point-to-point run from Lake Brandt Marina to Old Battleground Road with an out-and-back run on the Nat Greene, or add 10-plus miles to your run by linking the Nat Greene with area’s the extensive contiguous trail network.
One of the area’s oldest watershed trails, the Nat Greene Trail’s continuous and expansive views of 816-acre Lake Brandt make it one of the most scenic trail runs in the Winston-Salem area. Named after a major general in the Continental Army who was instrumental in the success of the Southern campaign during the Revolutionary War, the Nat Greene is part of North Carolina’s 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail. It travels through boggy wetlands, hardwoods, and pine forest, leaving runners to contend with occasional roots, rocks, and muddy dips on a combination of natural surface trail, steel bridges, and wooden boardwalk on its 3.6 miles.
What Makes It Great
Following the coves and peninsulas along the banks of Lake Brandt, the Nat Greene Trail passes through a canopy of mixed hardwood and pine and an understory of wildflowers and running ground cedar, depending on the season. The moderate terrain is marked by several short climbs and descents, which add variety to your run. Scenic footbridges and boardwalks navigate marshy habitats along the lake’s edge where creek waters empty into Lake Brandt. Plenty of shade and lake breezes keep the temperatures down during warm months. The non-technical trail allows for as much speed as you like. Another big-time bonus for serious trail runners? The trail is open to hikers and trail runners only, meaning you can concentrate on your workout and not dodging mountain bikers or horseback riders.
Approaching the Old Battleground Road trailhead, you’ll encounter a 200-foot boardwalk that crosses over Horse Pen Creek. Interpretive signage highlights trees and other vegetation commonly found along the trail. Migratory waterfowl sightings are common, and herons, egrets, and woodpeckers also make regular appearances.
As part of Greensboro’s 40-plus-mile trail system, the Nat Greene Trail can be combined with numerous contiguous trails for additional distance. For a more technical run, take the Nat Greene Trail to Old Battleground Road and return on the 4.2-mile Wild Turkey Trail, a shared-use mountain bike trail. Be alert to take the shoulder of the trail when cyclists are approaching, as Wild Turkey is a fast ride. Also at the Old Battleground Road trailhead, it’s possible to connect a segment of the Bicentennial Greenway, the 1.6-mile Palmetto Trail and a scenic portion of the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway that crosses Lake Brandt for a 3-plus-mile loop on natural and paved surface trails.
Who is Going to Love It
Novice runners will appreciate Nat Greene’s moderate terrain, heavy tree cover and options for an out-and-back run of any distance from either the Old Battleground Rd. or Lake Brandt Marina trailheads. More advanced runners will enjoy the trail’s speed and numerous options to add miles on the Bicentennial and Atlantic & Yadkin Greenways, Palmetto Trail, and mountain biking trails along the shores of Lake Brandt and in Bur-Mil Park. No matter what their level, all runners will love the fact that the trail is only open to trail runners and hikers. Dog owners, meanwhile, will appreciate the option to take their four-legged running buddy on the wide, shaded trail. And the expansive views across Lake Brandt are sure to please any visitor, whether they’re putting in a rigorous workout or are simply out for a serene stroll.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The Nat Greene trailhead is located 30 miles east of downtown Winston-Salem at Lake Brandt Marina off Lake Brandt Road. Additional parking is available outside the marina gate on the right when the marina is closed on Tuesdays year-round and Wednesdays from November to February. If you want to run the trail from the other end, a small gravel lot with limited parking is located off Old Battleground Road east of Horse Pen Creek.