Editor's note: As part of CityView's commitment to filling gaps by providing reporting and information for the Fort Liberty community, our HomeFront initiative has added two columnists who will write regularly about issues military families face. Today: Aria Spears, who lives at Fort Liberty with her active-duty spouse, writes about the importance of rituals — including going for walks. If there's a topic you'd like for our columnists address, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes rituals help create a sense of home and stability in the midst of a mobile life. Instead of identifying “home” as a place, I’ve adapted it into more of a practice. Wherever we live, I implement certain “rituals,” or routines, to help myself feel grounded in each place. Many military individuals and families adopt a similar approach to finding “home.”
The crisp air, changing leaves and cloudy days mean fall in Fayetteville is in full swing. And this means, it is generally perfect weather for walking — my primary “homemaking” ritual. I do like a good hike, but sometimes, I want the opportunity to be outside amongst the trees without the hassle of driving extra miles, finding parking and trail markers, and choosing the right route.
Luckily, there are quite a few places in the area that are filled with trees and also simple to navigate. Some also include lakes!
The Cape Fear River Trail is probably the most popular for a reason. It is 13 miles, easy to access and all-around amazing. However, I want to highlight a few other places that I think fit the criteria for a fantastic walking place: a loop trail, water views, easy to access, easy to navigate and lastly, filled with trees, creatures and all things nature.
Whether you like a daily power walk or prefer an occasional family stroll, here are reviews of my favorite walking places to enjoy both water and fall views in the Fayetteville region.
Mazarick Park is nestled in the Edenroc neighborhood, just north of the Haymount area. (I’m learning the neighborhoods — little by little.) Though adjacent to an active neighborhood, I was pleasantly surprised by the quiet paved, gravel, boardwalk and ground trail. There is plenty of parking available and the trails were very visibly marked.
The one-mile loop trail runs along the serene, pine-lined Glenville Lake for part of the distance. The golden green of the pines and clear sky reflect onto the still water, serving as a great centerpiece for fall-inspired photos. Along this section, you will find a dock that can be used for fishing or observation, as well as other water access points. Benches are strategically placed around the path for moments or rest or longer periods of reading and outdoor relaxation. The rest of the trail weaves in and out of the trees and along the winding frisbee golf course and well-kempt children’s playground. I tend to prefer longer distances, but considering the trail is a loop that can be walked multiple times, the distance you prefer to walk is up to you.
There is more for me to explore at Mazarick Park, but I will certainly return to this trail for the stunning water views and sparsely populated, peaceful walking trail.
The Lake Rim Park offers not only walking trails but a summer aqua park, tennis, a volleyball court, a story walk and sports fields, too. This park is located in west Fayetteville. Upon arriving at the park, you pass the aqua park on your left and find the main park building next to the primary parking area. Next to this building, you can begin the 0.7-mile walk down the Border Trail. On this tree-lined walk, you slowly descend down the hill, eventually ending up at a creekside boardwalk inlet. Though you can hear some of the traffic from distant roads, the cascading leaves and wetland scenes still create a peaceful environment in which to recharge.
Initially, you think this path is only a down-and-back trail, but while walking, you soon discover there are many alternate paths that can form a number of loops through the park. I saw a number of runners, walkers and dog-walkers making their own paths of different distances.
The first time I went to this park, I felt disheartened because though it is called “Lake Rim Park,” the trail did not run alongside a lake as I had hoped. However, adjacent to the park, I later discovered there is a Lake Rim Boating & Fishing Access dock and the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center right across the fence. Though the walking paths do not coincide with these places, it is easy to walk or drive to these locations before or after you head home to get a water view.
This park has a variety of activities for every season and people of all ages. I look forward to returning for the customizable walking loop which is easy to extend or shorten depending on your preferred distance.
Though it was recommended to me by multiple people, I didn’t expect much from a park simply named, “Reservoir Park.” The park far exceeded my expectations. The 165-acre park is nestled in the woods about 30 minutes north of Fayetteville in Southern Pines, Moore County. Winding through the entry road, one can see glimpses of water through the pines. Upon arriving at the parking area, you catch a wider view of the sprawling 95-acre lake. Though there are over 12 miles of biking and walking trails, the most easily visible trail runs along the perimeter of the lake to make a 2-mile loop.
The trail is partially paved, partially sandy ground, complete with water access points, docks and waterside benches along the way. Depending on the time you go, it may be quite busy as people frequent the park for running, biking, disc golf, walking, kayaking and more. This park has the benefits of a hike, with densely forested trails, but with the convenience of an urban greenway — easy parking, easy-to-follow trails, public safety and a central location.
Friends and families can make an afternoon of it, by packing a picnic lunch and enjoying the lovely pavilion areas available for reservation.
I’ll return to Reservoir Park for the longer loop and expansive water views.
I’ve found that the more I understand and explore the cities in which we live, the more they feel like home. Finding “your place” in military life doesn’t have to be limited to the four walls of your house.
Exploring easily accessible outdoor trails can extend the benefits of nature, as well as provide you with a front-row seat to the seasonal beauty Fayetteville offers throughout the year. Sometimes feeling grounded in military life starts with literally exploring the grounds on which we live.
Aria Spears is a writer, communications professional and civic leadership enthusiast. With a master's degree in nonprofit and civic leadership, Aria can be found exploring cities, persuading people to join local civic boards and sharing her book The Community Mapping Journal. When it comes to active-duty military family life, she believes that joy makes us strong.