Authorities were called to the scene around 6:30 a.m. after a passerby spotted the body.
The trail runs off of the American Tobacco Trail and goes to N.C. Highway 55. Numerous officers cordoned off an area of about 75 yards with crime scene tape.
"Oh my God! That's the first time anything like that has happened over this way. I've been here for three years, but nothing like that!" said Regina Hunter, who lives close to where the body was found.
Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said detectives were working to identify the dead woman, who they believe to be between 19 and 40 years old.
"From what we can see, it occurred during the night, and we're going to have to close the area out to make sure we can process the scene properly," he explained.
Police brought in a K9 to track possible scents.
The body was taken to the state Medical Examiner's Office where officials will try to figure out the cause of death.
Anyone with information is asked to call Investigator A. Cristaldi at (919) 560-4440, ext. 29322 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.