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North Carolina

North Carolina State Parks

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North Carolina
Heartland - Central Region
William B Umstead State Park
William B Umstead State Park Company Mill © David Short
Looking down at Company Mill
William B Umstead State Park © brandon daryle
William B Umstead State Park Walk among the trees in the Fall © Ted Brown
William B Umstead State Park Company Mill Trail © Danielle Gruber
Daniella Gruber http//
William B Umstead State Park Shelter in the woods © Ted Brown
William B Umstead State Park Foot bridge to the lake © Ted Brown
William B Umstead State Park © brandon daryle
William B Umstead State Park Summer drive through the park © Ted Brown
William B Umstead State Park Boathouse in the Fall © Ted Brown
William B Umstead State Park © Seyed Mehdi Mirian R.
William B Umstead State Park Company Mill Trail © Danielle Gruber
Daniella Gruber http//
William B Umstead State Park Summer stroll across the dam © Ted Brown
William B Umstead State Park Crabtree Creek © Susan McWilliams
Rapids near Company Mill Trail
William B Umstead State Park Fall on the lake © Ted Brown
William B Umstead State Park Trees by the lake © Ted Brown
William B Umstead State Park © brandon daryle
William B Umstead State Park © brandon daryle
William B Umstead State Park © brandon daryle
William B Umstead State Park © brandon daryle
Main entrance to the park from Hwy 70.
William B Umstead State Park © brandon daryle
William B Umstead State Park Crabtree Creek © Susan McWilliams
Near Company Mill Trail
William B Umstead State Park © brandon daryle
William B Umstead State Park © brandon daryle
View of the boathouse at Big Lake
William B Umstead State Park © brandon daryle
William B Umstead State Park Canoes for Rent © David M. Martin
Canoes on the shore of Big Lake during off-season.
8801 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, North Carolina   27617

Phone: 919-571-4170
Reservations: 877-722-6762
Tucked between the growing cities of Raleigh, Cary, Durham and the corporate world of Research Triangle Park is an oasis of tranquility, a peaceful haven?William B. Umstead State Park.

Here, two worlds merge as the sounds of civilization give way to the unhurried rhythm of nature. Highways fade in the distance as trees, flowers, birds and streams form a more natural community. William B. Umstead is a place to escape the pressures of everyday life, a place to picnic in the pines, to wait for a fish to bite, to take a hike or horseback ride on trails through the woods.

Divided into two sections, Crabtree Creek and Reedy Creek, this 5,439-acre park is easily accessible from Interstate 40 and US 70. Visit William B. Umstead State Park and enjoy this region of wilderness at the city's doorstep.

Park hours:

November-February, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

March and October, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

April, May, September, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

June-August, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Closed Christmas Day

Park office hours:

8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

Closed Christmas Day

Visitor's center hours:

November-February, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

March-October, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Closed Christmas Day
History of the Area
Long before the first settlers, the area now known as William B. Umstead State Park was an untamed land. American bison, elk, bobcats and wolves roamed majestic forests of oak, hickory and beech. Native Americans later inhabited the land and avenues of trade were developed nearby. Such avenues included the Occoneeche trail to the north and the Pee Dee trail to the south. In 1774, land grants opened the area for settlement.

Forests were cleared as agricultural interests sprouted. While early farming efforts were successful, poor cultivation practices and one-crop production led to depletion and erosion of the soil. During the Depression, farmers made futile attempts to grow cotton in worn-out soil around Crabtree Creek.

In 1934, under the Resettlement Administration, federal and state agencies united to buy 5,000 acres of this submarginal land to develop a recreation area. The Civilian Conservation Corps, as well as the Works Progress Administration, helped construct the site while providing much needed jobs. Four camps along with day-use and picnic facilities were built and the park opened to the public in 1937.

The state purchased this area, known as Crabtree Creek Recreation Area, for $1, and more facilities were built as the General Assembly made its first state parks division appropriation in the 1940s. In 1950, more than 1,000 acres of the park were established as a separate park for African-Americans. This area was named Reedy Creek State Park. Crabtree Creek Recreation Area was renamed a few years later after former Governor William Bradley Umstead because of his conservation efforts. In 1966, the Crabtree Creek and Reedy Creek areas were united under the same name; William B. Umstead State Park was open to everyone.
Tent/Trailer camping:

Stay a while and take time to enjoy the park. The tent/trailer campground is open Thursday through Monday, March 15 to December 15. Twenty-eight campsites, well-shaded by a hardwood forest, offer picnic tables and grills. Hookups are not available, but drinking water and restrooms with showers are centrally located. The campsites are available on a first-come basis for a modest fee.

Primitive group camping:

Two primitive campgrounds are open year round for organizations and nonprofit groups that want a more rugged camping experience. Reservations are required for use of these campgrounds.

The youth tent camp offers tent sites, a pit privy and running water. The camp accommodates up to 25 people.

Group camping:

Three group camps?Camp Crabtree, Camp Lapihio and Camp Whispering Pines?are available to youth groups and nonprofit organizations. Each camp includes a mess hall, dining area, camper and staff cabins and washhouses. Located in the heart of the woodlands, each camp offers ample opportunity to explore the wonders of nature. Swimming in Sycamore and Reedy Creek lakes is a popular group activity. Groups are responsible for providing swimming supervision and water safety.

Group camps are open April through October and may be rented daily in spring and fall or weekly during the summer. Accommodating between 27 and 120 people, an entire camp may be rented or a unit of cabins may be rented. Fees vary accordingly. A minimum of 10 people is required to rent a group camp or unit. Reservations for the group camps must be made in writing. Contact the park office to obtain reservation forms and fee information.
Nearby Vacation Rentals
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Rent a rowboat or canoe at the boathouse on Big Lake. Relaxing on these small boats is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Rentals are available daily throughout the summer and on weekends during spring and fall. Private boats and gasoline motors are not permitted.
Three manmade lakes are part of the picturesque beauty of William B. Umstead State Park. The largest is Big Lake, which lies on Sycamore Creek. From the parking lot in the Crabtree Creek section, a broad gravel path leads to this 55-acre body of water. Further downstream is Sycamore Lake and, near the intersection of Crabtree and Reedy creeks, is Reedy Creek Lake. Sycamore and Reedy Creek lakes cover about 25 acres each.

Anglers will enjoy casting a line at William B. Umstead State Park. Fishing is permitted in each of the three lakes and in the connecting streams. Common catches include bass, bluegill and crappie. Regulations of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission are enforced.

William B Umstead State Park is located near Apex, Cary and Chapel Hill

Take a picnic in the park; tables, grills and scenery are provided free of charge. A pine/hardwood forest forms a canopy for 40 picnic tables in the Crabtree Creek section. Reedy Creek offers 25 tables scattered under the trees. Drinking water, restrooms and parking are conveniently located nearby.

Crabtree Creek has two shelters for group picnics. One shelter accommodates up to 100 people; the second is for smaller gatherings of 20 people or less. A fireplace in each shelter offers an ideal setting for cool-weather dining. There are two shelters with fireplaces at Reedy Creek. One accommodates 125 people and has an attached stone deck; the second accommodates 60 people and is accessible. Umstead's picnic shelters are extremely popular, so reservations are suggested. Use of the shelters is free of charge unless reservations are made.
Twenty miles of hiking trails provide access to most of Umstead State Park. Visitors may choose between a short stroll along a nature trail or a more extensive hike into the woods. Either choice will be rewarding as the beauty and diversity of the park's natural resources are best seen from any one of its many trails. Some of the trails at Umstead interconnect; to avoid becoming lost, pay close attention to trail markers. No bikes or horses are allowed on hiking trails.
Nature Programs
Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about William B. Umstead State Park.

To arrange a special exploration of William B. Umstead State Park for your group or class, contact the park office.

Educational materials about William B. Umstead State Park have been developed for grades 3-5 and are correlated to North Carolina's competency-based curriculum in science, social studies, mathematics and English/language arts. The William B. Umstead program introduces students to resource management, from land-use practices that can destroy natural resources to proper land management, restoration, and preservation. Major concepts covered include forces and causes of erosion and sedimentation, erosion and sedimentation laws, resource management and stewardship. Accompanying the program is a teacher's booklet and workshop, free of charge to educators.
Area Attractions
Exhibit HallGain a better understanding of the natural and cultural history of the land that is now William B. Umstead State Park by visiting the park's exhibit hall. A series of interactive exhibits, oral histories and images by the celebrated Depression-era photographer Carl Mydans guides visitors through the park's transformation from exhausted farmland in the early 20th century to the dynamic Piedmont forest that exists today. The exhibit hall opened in July, 2001.

Exhibits include:

* "This Old Farmland Has Stories to Tell" which uses oral histories of past residents to describe daily life on what was once hardscrabble farmland.

* "Mills and the Community" depicts a replica of one of several gristmills found in the park.

* "Park Construction" tells about the selection of the land as a public works project to be called Crabtree Creek Recreational Demonstration Area, and the beginnings of the reclamation of the land by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

* "The Kingdom Game" is a computer interactive exhibit that invites visitors to consider the effects of development and preservation.

* "The Urban Oasis" shows changes on the land that became the park through a series of aerial photographs.

* Another series of exhibits describes the natural history of the land including stories of weather, soil and wildlife habitats.

The exhibit hall is located in the park visitor's center and is open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily. Closed Christmas Day.


Umstead State Park is one of the few state parks offering trails for bicycling. The mountain-bike trails follow the same roads as the bridle trails and are entered at the same points. Bike trailhead parking is also available down Sycamore Road past Maple Hill Lodge. Mountain bikes are prohibited on the hiking trails.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
February 3 Best in Raleigh area by Laura
great all around park, it accommodates a variety of uses, several of my horseback riding buddies including myself really appreciate the use of this park
February 22 Local gem by amy
How wonderful to have this gem so close to Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill! We can hike, run, bike, ride a horse! We can be hard core and get a work out. Or we can be mellow and just have a nice escape. Or take the kids and teach them about nature. We are so lucky!
May 18 Local paradise! by jade13
Great trails for all levels of hikers, bike riders and equestrians. Facilities for those just wanting to picnic or celebrate an occasion under a shelter. Right in your own bkyd! Have enjoyed it since 1973 move here. It only keeps getting better!!! Try both sides! Kudos to the park rangers and state employees who keep it a wonderful gem for Raleigh/Cary to enjoy and boast about!
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Directions to William B. Umstead State Park William B. Umstead State Park is located in Wake County between Raleigh and Durham.

The Crabtree Creek section is located 10 miles northwest of Raleigh off US 70. The park visitor?s center and camping facilities are located in this section. From I-40, turn northeast on I-540 and take the US 70 exit. Travel southeast on US 70, and turn right on Umstead Parkway, which leads to the park office and visitor?s center.

The entrance to the Reedy Creek section is 11 miles west of Raleigh off I-40. From I-40, take the Harrison Avenue exit and travel northeast into the park.

North Carolina

North Carolina State Parks