William B. Umstead State Park
A favorite local outdoor recreation spot for the Triangle
Facts & Figures
Crabtree Creek Access and Visitor’s Center: 8801 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27617
Reedy Creek Access: 2100 N. Harrison Ave, Cary, NC 27513
Size: 5,599 acres
Hours: Open daily from 8:00am to 6:00pm
Phone: (919) 571-4170
Management: North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Division of Parks & Recreation
- Horseback Riding
- Mountain Biking
- Trail Running
Located in Raleigh and situated between Raleigh, Durham, and Cary, at 5,599 acres William B. Umstead State Park is a beautiful piece of preserved land that is a local favorite for many. With quick access from anywhere in the Triangle, Umstead State Park is one of the highest visited state parks in the North Carolina State Parks system. With more than twenty miles of hiking trails, multi-use trails (MUTs), three manmade lakes for fishing, and tent camping, primitive group camping, and group camping areas, Umstead State Park offers endless opportunities to explore for every outdoor enthusiast.
Our first experience with William B. Umstead State Park was during my REI Outdoor School instructor training back in the spring of 2015. I had joined the Central NC market of REI as a part-time Outdoor School Instructor as they were expanding their outdoor programs, mainly as one of their lead kayaking instructors. My ACA Kayaking Instructor Trainer and Wilderness First Responder certifications were still current, so it was a great way to utilize my certifications while helping teach their classes as they were expanding. We spent the second full day of our instructor training at the Crabtree Creek entrance, utilizing their primitive group camping area as a base camp for training, while also incorporating some guided hikes on the trails in that area. From that first experience at Umstead State Park, I fell in love with the feeling and resources provided by the park.
Since then, I’ve taken our kids back to hike the trails a couple of times. On Black Friday of Thanksgiving weekend in 2019, the kids and I packed up a picnic lunch and spent the morning hiking the 0.6 mile Oak Rock Trail, the park’s TRACK trail for kids, part of the Kids in Parks nationwide network of family friendly adventures, as part of #OptOutside. There are a few easy trails throughout the park that are family friendly. For cool wet fun during hot summer months, spend some time stomping around the creeks throughout the park. This is a great way for kids to explore stream habitats.
This past Friday, I decided to take a vacation day from work, so I packed up my day pack with my Ten Essentials, laced up my hiking boots, and hit the trail for a long solo hike, in between dropping our daughter off and picking her up at preschool. It was in the mid to upper thirties and damp, but it was so great to get outside by myself for a couple hours. I parked at the Reedy Creek entrance off of Harrison Ave. in Cary and hiked the 5.8 mile Company Mill Trail loop. It was a beautiful hike, with changing elevation, scenery, and lots of history dating back to the early 1800’s where the former Company Mill was once an economic and social center for the area. A highlight of my hike was a suspension bridge across Reedy Creek. While I always recommend recreating with another person, in the event of an accident or emergency situation, if/when I rarely get outside by myself, I always let my wife know where I’m going and when I plan to return. As mentioned in my Survival 101 blog post, filing a trip plan and carrying the Ten Essentials is critical to ensuring a safe outdoor adventure, even on a simple day hike. Below is a screen shot of the text I sent my wife before I hit the trail.