The town of Fuquay-Varina’s Parks and Recreation system is commonly recognized among area municipalities, for excellence in many different areas. One specific area that they have always been known to excel at is there planning and scheduling of future projects and events. For decades, their planning process has the town ahead of the curve with its planned construction and additions. This actually led to the great array of outdoor living options currently boasted by the town, including the many parks and walking trails in Fuquay Varina.

This article, focusing on some parks and walking trails in Fuquay Varina, will be the first in a series of three. Throughout this series, we will look at all types of destinations in Fuquay to enjoy the outdoors. 

Carroll Howard Johnson Environmental Education Park is a great place to learn about nature and wildlife.

Walking Trails in Fuquay Varina at Carroll Howard Johnson Environmental Education Park: A “Gift” to the Town

What eventually became Johnson Environmental Education Park, was originally a 20-acre tract of land donated to the Town of Fuquay-Varina in 1992. Former Mayor Alfred Johnson and his wife Carroll Howard Johnson made this generous donation to the town, hence the dedication in its name.

Keeping with their history of great planning, another 8-acre piece of land was acquired six years later. This too was a donation, (from Horace Tart), which led to the park’s size growing to the 28 acres it is currently. 

The decision was made to use the park to “give back.” To accomplish this, the goal was set to focus on educating residents on the environment.

“Getting Back to Nature”: Educating, Exploring, and Learning

With the extra land at their disposal, the Johnson Environmental Education Park would come to feature one of the longest Walking Trails in Fuquay Varina. Stretching two miles, the trail truly gives you some of the most spectacular natural views in town. As you walk along this trail you’ll see natural bridges, overlooks, and of course the gorgeous plant and wildlife.

Along the trail, there is also an outdoor classroom setting, unique to only this one out of all Walking Trails in Fuquay Varina. Consequently, for teachers looking to bring a class to the trail, there are also free teaching kits available. This park actually connects to the town’s South Park, via both park’s trail running into the Jeff Wells Hiking Trail.

The official Fuquay-Varina website points out the beauty and serenity of this park and trail. “Explore the 2-mile nature trail and uncover the natural treasures in Fuquay-Varina,” the site began. “Crossing beautiful overlooks and natural bridges, visitors will find a path of wooded splendor, local flora and fauna, and many species of birds that highlight the everyday wonders of Fuquay-Varina’s nature.”

Features at Fuquay’s Carroll Howard Johnson Environmental Education Park

  • 2-miles of interpretive walking trails
  • Overlooks
  • Natural Bridges
  • Outdoor Classroom
  • Picnic Pavillion and Tables
  • Restroom Facilities
The splash pad is a popular feature at South Park, which also has its own greenway trail.

Walking Trails in Fuquay Varina take You “Downtown” to South Park

Many local residents will identify South Park as their children’s “cool down” spot in town. This is because of the Park and Recreation Department’s popular addition of the town’s “Splash Park” at this location. While the 6,000 square-foot, water attraction has been a “hit” with the kids since opening in 2015, there is much more of South Park to enjoy.,

Situated in the heart of town at 900 South Main Street, South Park is a total of 25 acres. Despite being located in the heart of downtown Fuquay, it also attaches to the scenic and beautiful 1.3 mile long South Park Greenway Trail. 

More so than maybe any other of the Walking Trails in Fuquay Varina, this passage is a known favorite of bird enthusiasts. This trail is good for all skill levels of walkers or runners. It also features the bountiful plants and wildlife known among all Walking Trails in Fuquay Varina.

The South Park trail is accessible year-round and dog-friendly as well, provided your pet is on a leash. It is also the trailhead to yet another of the Walking Trails in Fuquay Varina.

South Park: Playing, Splashing, and Tracking

The actual park located at the Main Street address above is very popular among the locals. A full list of the features at South Park is below.

  • 6,000 square foot “Splash Pad” water playground
  • 1/4 Mile Walking/Jogging Track
  • Illuminated Baseball and Softball fields
  • Batting Cages
  • Two multi-purpose fields
  • Picnic Shelter and tables
  • Playground area
  • Restroom Facilities
The Jeff Wells Hiking Trail (pictured) is a “connector” of several of the beautiful parks and trails in town.

“Connecting the Heart of Fuquay-Varina to Nature” on the Jeff Wells Hiking Trail

The Jeff Wells Hiking Trail is the connector within the Walking Trails in Fuquay Varina that was mentioned above. It intersects with both the South Park Greenway Trail and the Environmental Educational Park. The Wells Trail runs for 0.8 miles.

The Jeff Wells Hiking Trail has a review on the popular hiking and trails website hikingproject.com. In addition to showing the elevation and grading that the trail sits on, the site gives a flattering description.

“This trail has a great view of nature and downtown Fuquay-Varina,” the description states. “The trail connects to the 48-acres of Carroll Howard Johnson Environmental Park, where hikers have fantastic views on nature and a creek. The Jeff Wells Trail connects from Carroll Howard Park through a greenway near neighborhoods to South Park.” It concludes, “It is worth a hike.”

Likewise, the person who submitted the trail to “Hiking Project,” offered their own one-sentence review, summing up the “connector” of Walking Trails in Fuquay Varina. He stated, “A fantastic trail that connects the heart of Fuquay-Varina to nature.”

Fuquay-Varina Walking Trails: Lead Me to the Parks

Each of the four trails covered leading to other in-town outdoor living areas, specifically the Fuquay-Varina parks. In our next article of this series, we will also “lead you to and through” some of the town parks. For a preview of the parks we will feature, go to the Outdoor Living section of southlakesliving.com.