Need some fresh air? Check out these spots near campus!

Look at how happy he is outside?!
Photo: “Minou enjoys his sunbathe,” by Marina. Flickr Creative Commons.

It’s September! The weather is (finally) cooling off, the leaves are starting to change colors, and we are (probably!) all in need of some fresh air and a study break (like that cat!). North Carolina is FULL of excellent city, county, and state parks with hiking trails and outdoor activities galore (check out this awesome blog with 22 ideas for outdoor adventures), but I wanted to take a minute to give a shout out to three awesome, public transit-accessible parks and outdoor spaces we have right here in Chapel Hill and Carrboro (one is even ON CAMPUS!). Enjoy!


Located just minutes from campus in Carrboro, Wilson Park is a great option for a Sunday picnic or an after-class hike in the woods. The park is home to 8.5 acres full of trails and walking paths, including some trails along Bolin Creek if you’re adventurous and want to hop in the water for a quick dip. Wilson Park also has tennis courts (including 4 that are lit-up at night), a baseball field, playground equipment, and a pavilion and grills to accommodate your picnicking needs.

For more information:

Park address: 101 Williams Street in Carrboro

How to get there: If you have access to a car, Wilson park is a short (under 10 minute) drive from campus, and there is plenty of parking available. No car? No problem! You can take the F bus from various spots on campus (e.g. along Franklin Street), ride the bus for about 10 minutes, and get off at the “N. Greensboro Street at Williams Street” stop. From there, you’ll turn down Williams Street and walk 0.1 miles, and the park will be right there! The other option would be to take the J bus from campus, and get off at the “E. Main Street at Jade Palace” stop, take a right on N. Greensboro Street, walk 0.8 miles and turn onto Williams Street, where the park is.

Photo: “Boating” by Zhaoyu Zhang, Flickr Creative Commons.


Need some more water in your life? University Lake (also located in Carrboro) may be just what you’re looking for. From September through early November, the lake is open from 6:30am to 6:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Boat rentals (canoes and kayaks) are available at University Lake, and there are picnic areas as well so you can be sure to get plenty of fuel before your boat ride.

For more information:

Address: 130 University Lake Road in Chapel Hill

How to get there: Hop on the CM bus from various spots on campus, and ride for about 15 minutes, exiting at the “Old Fayatteville Road at Poplar Place” stop. Walk towards the big parking lot and take your first right. Walk about 0.4 miles down that road and you will end up at the University Lake office, where you can rent boats! There is also a parking lot for those wanting to drive.


UNC Biker
Photo by Liyun Yu, “UNC Biker”. Flickr Creative Commons.

Up for some outdoor games and activities right in your backyard? Check out the 20 wooded acres (on campus!) at the COEC, which is home to an 18-hole disc golf course, three sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, picnic areas, a ropes course, and more! Additionally, the COEC sponsors a ton of great outdoor opportunities like backpacking trips, day-hikes, rock climbing excursions, and kayaking adventures.

For more information:

Address: 410A Country Club Road in Chapel Hill (right on campus!!)

How to get there: COEC is about a ten minute walk from the Student Union – check out these walking directions starting in front of Fetzer Gym. There are also some parking spots available AFTER 5:30pm.

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