“A good rolling loop trail through established NC forest with water features.”
— Chris Lynch
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife
The trail is very wide, and you are likely to share it with other runners, hikers, mountain bikers and occasionally horseback riders. Highlights include the seclusion of the forest scenery, views of Reedy Creek Lake and the crossing of Sycamore Creek just before it joins Crabtree Creek. The trails are very wide and well-marked, making for a relaxing, long loop through the forest, with the potential for a spicy creek crossing if you are forced to ford Sycamore Creek at high volumes or alternatively cross on a large downed tree.
Need to Know
There is a creek crossing just before end of the loop. At lower stream volumes, the stream can be crossed with dry feet on stepping stones, but after rains it must either be waded (not recommended because of rocky bottom) or crossed on a tree that crosses the stream.
Start at the parking lot at Ebenezer Church Road entrance to Umstead State Park (5407 Ebenezer Church Road). The park generally is open only during daylight hours, but parking at this entrance is available even after official park hours.
Travel down the spur trail from the parking lot to main part of South Turkey Creek Multiuse Trail
and turn left. The first ~1.75 miles are a gentle and consistent climb on a fine gravel road surface, about doubletrack wide, to meet the Reedy Creek Multiuse Trail
near the Reedy Creek Road/Trenton Road intersection and park entrance. Turn right here onto the Reedy Creek Multiuse Trail
This part of the trail is a very wide dirt/fine gravel road, consisting of a gradual descent of about 1 mile to Reedy Creek Lake and a bridge over Crabtree Creek. The trail then climbs a moderate and mostly sustained grade for another approx. 3/4 of a mile to the intersection with the Cedar Ridge Multiuse Trail
, where you turn right again.
The Cedar Ridge Multiuse Trail
returns to a fine gravel road surface that is about doubletrack wide and descends gradually about 1.5 miles to Sycamore Creek. During low water flow, the creek can be crossed with good balance and dry feet on stepping stones; it is normally about 15 feet wide. At higher water flow, I prefer to bush-whack south to cross on one of the downed trees that span the creek (as shown on the GPS track for this hike). In fall 2015, the second downed tree is much wider and easier to cross on than the first tree you'll encounter during your bush-whack.
After crossing the creek, it is only another 1/4 to 1/2 mile to return to the parking area. During this loop hike, you'll cross fairly well-marked intersections with the singletrack Loblolly Trail
and Company Mill Trail
, which you should not take unless you want to explore!
Flora & Fauna
Deer and many kinds of birds are regularly seen.
History & Background
Umstead Park was originally developed as a Civilian Conservation Corp and Works Progress Administration project area that opened in 1937 and was subsequently named the Crabtree Creek Recreational Demonstration Area when purchased by the State of North Carolina in the 1940s. A separate but adjacent area was opened as a segregated park for African Americans in the 1950s as the Reedy Creek State Park. The two adjacent parks were joined in 1966 as Wiilliam B. Umstead State Park. The park is an semi-urban jewel, consisting of over 5,000 acres of mostly undisturbed forest right next door to highly developed Raleigh, Durham and Cary, NC.