Greensboro’s three watershed lakes north of town — Brandt, Townsend and Higgins — offer 42 miles of natural surface trail, trail that exposes hikers to all manner of flora and fauna common to a riparian Piedmont environment. There are various spots to begin your exploration of the three lakes; one of the best and most accessible is Bur-Mil Park off Battleground Avenue. From Bur-Mil you can pick up:

• Nat Greene Trail. This popular 3.6-mile trail loops through a diverse forest of hardwoods and pines with nice carpets of running cedar. Interpretive signs along one stretch help you figure out what you’re looking at.

• Owl’s Roost Trail and Fire Road. You share this 5.6-miles of trail with mountain bikers; if the trail design seems unusual in spots, that’s to accommodate the fat tire set.

• Palmetto Trail. At 1.6 miles this loop trail is short but features some intriguing geology.

• Piedmont Trail (accessible by heading north on the Lake Brandt Greenway and picking up just past the bridge, on the right). There’s a good deal of exposure on this 2.75-mile (one way) trail, which takes you through an impressive stand of kudzu (the vine that ate the South) and assorted bushes bearing berries.

The watershed lakes offer a remarkable concentration of hiking trail for an urban area.

More info: Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department

Maps: Downloadable here, also available at the park.

Getting there from downtown Greensboro
Difficulty: moderate (length)
Distance: 15 minutes from downtown Greensboro to Bur-Mil Park
Time to complete: 1 to 3 hours (depending upon trail hiked)
Address: 5834 Bur-Mil Club Road
City: Greensboro
State: N.C.
Zip: 27410
Latitude: 36.1009
Longitude: 79.5113