In a region known for its many hills, the long and moderate climbs of the Salem Lake Trail make this packed dirt and gravel path an ideal outing for any level of runner. The serene natural landscape belies this urban oasis’ proximity to downtown Winston-Salem. Soak in constantly shifting water views as the trail hugs the irregular shoreline of the 365-acre lake. Heron, osprey, Canadian geese, and other migratory waterfowl are common companions, while raptors frequent the surrounding woodlands throughout the year.
What Makes It Great
Accessible and approachable for any runner, the Salem Lake Trail is as much a staple for the couch-to-5K athlete as marathon runners and triathletes. Long, gentle ascents and descents unfold under a heavy canopy of hardwoods along the lakeshore. The north side trail is less hilly than the south side of the lake, and plenty of shade throughout the park offers welcome relief from summertime heat.
The natural beauty of this scenic trail makes it easy to get lost in the scenery and keep logging the miles. Every season unveils a spectacular show, from a thick green leaf canopy in summer and a blaze of red and gold foliage in fall to a hushed blanket of white in winter and a carpet of woodland wildflowers in spring.
Ample parking in two gravel lots provides an ideal spot for distance runners to hydrate and fuel up between laps, with restrooms located at the park office and a water fountain between miles three and four. Benches and interpretive signage intermittently dot the trail. Horseback riders, bicyclists, and runners share the wide and non-technical trail, which alternates between packed dirt, sand, rock dust, and gravel, but the wide loop is built to accommodate shared use, making it easy to maintain speed during your run.
Prominent blue and green mile markers make it easy for novice runners not yet ready to tackle the entire loop to run distances to fit their training plan. Advanced runners combine can combine multiple loops for longer mileage or run the Salem Creek Greenway, a paved path connecting Salem Lake to downtown Winston-Salem, for an additional 12.5-mile out-and-back run.
If you want to go for a bike ride (or pedal your way to grab some food) after your run, there's a bike share station near the parking area at the beginning of the trail. All you have to do is download the Zagster app, join the Winston-Salem Bike Share, and use a code from the app to unlock a bike—it's super easy!
Who is Going to Love It
Novice runners, as well as families and parents with baby joggers, will love the wide, non-technical trail,moderate climbs and mile markers to track progress. Advanced runners and athletes training for distance events will appreciate the option to run multiple-loops that, when combined with the spur trail to downtown, opens up unlimited ways to extend a run for extra mileage. And all outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the natural setting and serene lake views.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The main parking area is located off Salem Lake Road, 10 minutes from downtown Winston-Salem. Take I-40 Business east to a left on Peachtree Street. Turn right on Reynolds Park Road to head straight into the park. Handicap access via a paved parking lot is located at a second, lesser-used entrance off Linville Road; this entrance is also ideal for wheelchairs and baby joggers. Park hours are 8 am to 7:30 pm on weekdays and 7 am to 7:30 pm on weekends.