The American Tobacco Trail, or ATT, is a 22+ mile rails-to-trails project in the Triangle region of North Carolina, heavily used by walkers, runners, cyclists and equestrians. 



The American Tobacco Trail is built on the former railroad corridor that was originally developed as the New Hope Valley Railroad. The railroad later became the Durham and South Carolina Railroad and then part of the Norfolk Southern Railway System. The tracks were abandoned in the 1970s after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Jordan Lake reservoir, which required a relocation of part of the tracks. In the 1980s, the Triangle Rails to Trails Conservancy formed and developed a master plan to turn the corridor into a multi-use trail.

Additional early history of the trail can be found on the Triangle Trails website.

Bikers on the trail with a tobacco barn in the background.




The trail runs through Durham, Wake and Chatham County, starting just south of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park at the American Tobacco Campus, and ending southwest of Apex. In February 2014, a pedestrian bridge was completed over Interstate 40 which connected the north and south parts of the Trail into 22 continuous miles. Construction of the bridge was originally planned to begin in 2006 but was delayed due to permits and funding. Construction is ongoing to make the ATT part of a 75-mile network of trails throughout the Triangle, including greenways in Cary, Apex and Morrisville.

The trail's pedestrian bridge over I-40 opened in 2014. Source


The hours for the trail are dawn to dusk.Parking at the trailheads is limited in Wake County to 8 am to 30 minutes before sunset. Durham, Wake and much of the Chatham County portions of the ATT are paved, making it popular among walkers, runners and cyclists. In addition, horses are allowed on the Chatham and Wake sections. Local organizations host charitable races, such as the Tobacco Road Marathon, on the trail, and cycling events.

Hunting is allowed on Army Corps of Engineers Jordan Lake Game Lands, adjacent to the trail, in Wake and Durham counties in the sections south of Massey Chapel Road. Licensed hunters are allowed to use the trail to access game lands, though they can not fire their weapon from or across the trail, and cannot carry a loaded weapon on the trail. In North Carolina, hunted is not allowed on public lands on Sunday. For a complete list of hunting regulations, visit www.ncwildlife.org.

Runners at the starting line at the Tobacco Road Marathon.


Currently, several restrooms and water stops exist along the trail. Wake County opened year-round restrooms, water fountains and parking at New Hope Church Road Trailhead Park in October 2015. In addition, Wake County has restrooms at White Oak Church Road and at the southern trail entrance at New Hill-Olive Chapel Road. In Durham, Herndon Park at Scott King Road also has restrooms and water fountains.

Crime & Safety

In partnership with local police, citizens play an important role in keeping the trail safe, both through reporting crimes as well as volunteering with the Durham Community Trail Watch. Crime on the trail was publicized starting in summer 2011 and increased to over a dozen assaults reported on the trail in 2012, which prompted the creation of the Trail Watch program in November of that year. After completing a background check, volunteers with Durham Community Trail Watch are trained through Durham Police. They monitor the trail by walking, biking, or running in bright yellow vests.

In addition to the Trail Watch program, a study of safety and crime on the ATT in Durham was coordinated by NC Rail Trails. A full report was released in 2015 which highlighted the racial tensions and segregation in Durham as illuminated by the publicity of these crimes on the trail. The report found that the ATT is much safer than the areas within a 10 minute walk of the trail.

A Trail Watch volunteer gathers at a season kickoff event. Source

Rules of the Trail

  1. No ATVs or other motorized vehicles

  2. Leave no trace: Animal waste must be picked up, and no littering of any kind

  3. Pass on the left

  4. Bicyclists yield to pedestrians

  5. No firearms except concealed carry handguns. Hunters accessing NC Wildlife game lands should not have loaded firearms on the trail, nor should they discharged firearms on or across the trail.  

Rules adapted from these sources: