Your complete guide to the best walking paths in and around Duke

Duke Students
4 min readNov 18, 2022


By Catherine Esrey

Medical experts at The Mayo Clinic recommend that the average adult try to walk 10,000 steps a day. As college students, we usually meet that mark of 10k without even trying. Walking to and from classes and around campus alone adds up quickly! However, if you are looking to incorporate more mindful walking into your routine, let this be your guide to the best walking paths in and around Duke.

The Al Buehler Trail

Trail through a forest of trees

Located conveniently off of West Campus, this 3-mile loop surrounds the Washington Duke Inn and is the perfect escape as you are immersed in nature the entire time. Most enjoyable in the fall season, the path is complete with bridges, ponds, views of the golf course and the occasional wild animal sighting.

Walk from East to West

If you have time to kill between classes, skip the C1 and take the opportunity to walk. Not only is it a great way to get extra steps in but the 1.5-mile stretch is the perfect chance to slow down and take some time for you. The choice is yours — whether you choose to listen to music, a podcast, or simply take in the scenes that you often speed past.

The East Campus Loop

Gravel trail on college campus

During my freshman year, I walked the East Campus Loop religiously. In just 10 steps, I could get from my dorm to the gravel path. The feasibility and convenience quickly made it my go-to. Whenever I needed a quick study break, or if a chatty relative called me, I would lace up my shoes and start walking.

Around the Gardens

Left: Trail through Duke Gardens. Center: 2 students pose in the Duke Gardens. Right: Scenic shot of the Duke Gardens.

Even just a short stroll through the Sarah P. Gardens counts as a walk. I mean, you are moving your feet after all … the speed is less important. In fact, a walk through the gardens should be slowed down in order to really enjoy and take in the sites. From the lovely flowers to the flowing fountains, and, of course, the people watching, it is impossible not to feel at ease. Take it one step further and invite a friend to walk with you.

Walk to get coffee

Left: Coffee cup with rainbow on the left side. Right: Student walking and holding coffee cup in hand.

My personal favorite walking route is one that ends at a coffee shop. Talk about an instant serotonin (and energy) boost. Although I now live on West Campus, I still make the trek to Cloche Coffee, located right by East Campus. I go specifically for the almond milk lattes and their seasonal flavors. Right now, I am into the house-made maple syrup latte.

According to the same aforementioned medical experts, and many others, there are numerous benefits of walking. I won’t bore you with the scientific data and studies but I will highlight just a few. For one, walking is known to improve health by reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, boosting serotonin, and enhancing sleep. As a college student, walking is especially beneficial for ​​increasing energy levels, boosting productivity, and helping to clear your mind. Additionally, when walking you are exposed to new places, saving money on transportation, and it can even double as a social activity. So, whatever your goal is, reach it by walking around our beautiful campus!

Catherine is a sophomore and 2nd-year @Dukestudents intern. When she’s not exploring Duke’s various walking paths, she can be found buying her second coffee of the day at Bella Union or making her friends pose for her TikTok day in the life video.



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