I hope everyone had a great weekend! My son’s second birthday party was yesterday, and we had his party at our house. We were very fortunate to have some beautiful weather; it was such a blast! Hearing the laughter of our neighbor’s and family’s children was priceless. But Oh. My. Goodness. I am tired today. Send all the coffee!
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This morning, as I dragged myself out of bed, I knew I wanted to get out and check out a local coffee shop and then go for a nature walk at Knightdale Environmental Park. It was drizzling when I awoke, but it quickly turned into an overcast day in the high 60s, which is perfect weather for me. Come with me to see what it’s like on a drizzly Sunday morning!
Taking A Moment To Enjoy The Morning
Before heading out for my nature walk, I grabbed brunch and a cappuccino at a now long-gone food hall, Craften (we miss you, Craften!). After enjoying my very filling brunch, I sat back and enjoyed a moment just people-watching and listening to music. As I was leaving the restaurant, the sun began to peek out from behind the clouds, so I decided to head on over for a quick walk through Knightdale Environmental Park.
Exploring Knightdale Environmental Park
After brunch, I hopped in the car and headed over to Knightdale Environmental Park for a brief walk in nature to honor the Year of the Trail. Located at 1385 N. Smithfield Road in Knightdale, the park shares a parking lot with the Wake County East Regional Library. This parking lot has EV charging stations and lighting, but there are no separate restroom facilities over by the park entrance, so you will have to enter the library during business hours if needed.
Because of the park’s proximity to the library, the library has hosted events that wind through the trail at the park. A few months after we moved to Knightdale, we attended the Moonlight Walk: Explore the Galaxy! Event. The local Boy Scouts troop helped people navigate the trails, kids had lots of Star Wars and astronaut garb on, and they gave us little lights to put on our fingers to help us navigate the trail. Afterward, they had a lot of activities and crafts inside the library. It was a sweet way to spend the evening with the kids, and we will go back again this year.
Where Is Knightdale Environmental Park’s Entrance?
A lovely small garden is at the front of the Environmental Park entrance, which the Two Green Thumbs Garden Club maintains. The garden contains native plants and one of my favorite specimen trees, a Carolina Sweetheart redbud.
As a side note, I’m a super-novice gardener and planted two of these trees in our yard after we moved here. We purchased them both from Homewood Nursery and Garden Center in Raleigh, and their customer service was awesome. Did you know that two of these could fit into the back of a small SUV? Me neither!
This specific Carolina Sweetheart redbud cultivar was developed at NC State University and has beautiful small ruby red heart-shaped leaves that then get this lovely variegation and eventually turn green as summer progresses. Then, in the spring, beautiful pink blooms come out onto the tree branches. It is such a great tree to showcase some North Carolina love!
Anyway, the entrance is simple, with a wooden entryway and then a kiosk with a map that, admittedly, is a bit difficult to read due to the aging of the plexiglass. The gravel pathway through this park is short- only about ⅓ of a mile. And you do have to initially walk past a pretty unsightly public utility station that is fenced. But there is a rubber honeycomb matting throughout the gravel, which makes the path less slippery and easier for little (or, if you’re like me- slightly clumsy) feet to navigate. Once past that utility station, you feel like you are in a different world.
Winding Through Knightdale Environmental Park’s Pathways
Winding through the park, you will find multiple overlooks, boardwalks, a lake with an aeration bubbler, picnic shelters, and a few small art installations. While it is obvious that this is an urban park due to the proximity to the road (and therefore roadway noise), if you go a little further back, you can hear plenty of beautiful running water sounds and bird songs. I heard the sound of a woodpecker hammering away and mourning doves cooing. In the moments when the road noise is minimal or nonexistent, you feel like you are in the middle of a mossy forest.
The shade is plentiful, thanks to all of the mature trees. A creek runs throughout, and the boardwalk has multiple overlooks where you can enjoy looking at the small waterway and lake. Squirrels run in and out around the trees and tree branches.
When you come to the end of the trail, you come upon Knightdale’s Town Hall and the building that houses East Wake Television. There is a nice little courtyard with the prettiest bird feeder right in the middle. I’d like to think it’s a nice place for the town’s employees to take a break and decompress.
Winding Down and Heading Back Home
After my walk was complete, I felt a sense of calmness. It was short, maybe all of ten minutes. In fact, it felt incredibly short since I was doing it sans kids. But it was just what I needed to feel grounded again and appreciative of all the natural beauty around me.
I hopped back in the car and did a quick, 4-minute drive back to my home. When I opened the door, it was quiet. My husband had put the kids down for their nap. I looked at the floor, which was scattered with still-inflated birthday balloons and random birthday toys that had been dragged about, and breathed in the sweet smell of cupcakes, which still lingered. While it was such a nice morning out to have some much-needed me-time, I was also so happy and grateful to be back home.
Are you curious to learn about more parks in or near Knightdale? Take a look at these!