North Carolina is home to over 30(!!) state parks. I love all things nature and hiking so I have been super excited to get out there and explore since we moved here in May.
Back in the day, when it was just Gatsby and I, we were hiking machines. Now that we’ve added Casey and Lyla to the mix I don’t get to hike as much. Casey has a physically demanding job, so doing physical activity on his off day or before he heads to work isn’t always a smart decision, and Lyla, well, she’s blind so naturally hiking isn’t her go to activity.
For Casey’s recent off day we decided to head to the state park closest to our apartment and do some light hiking. We definitely had move a little slower, but overall Lyla did great and we all really enjoyed the day!
About Umstead State Park
The story of Umstead State Park is actually similar to that of Myakka State Park in Florida. Prior to the great depression the land was beautiful untamed forest land. By 1934, in an effort to rejuvenate the economy and make more jobs, federal and state governments united to buy 5,000 acres of this land to develop as a park and recreational area. The state’s natural beauty was preserved and the process provided much needed jobs to many people. The park was opened to the public in 1937 under the name Crabtree Creek Recreation Area.
In 1966, Crabtree Creek was combined with another neighboring recreational area, Reedy Creek, and renamed William B. Umstead State Park in honor of North Carolina’s former Governor. Today Umstead State Park covers over 5,000 acres of land.
What to do at Umstead State Park
Hiking trails – Umstead has over 22 miles of hiking trails. The difficulties range from easy to moderate and the lengths range from 0.2 miles to 7.2 miles.
Horseback Riding trails – Umstead is one of the few North Carolina state parks that offer trails for horseback riding. There are approximately 13 miles of park trails that are open for horseback riding, and there are several stops along that way that offer water for horses. Horses are restricted to these trails and are not permitted in other areas of the park, including hiking trails.
Mountain Bike Trails – mountain bike trails follow the same roads as the horseback riding trails and are accessed at the same points. Mountain bikes are not allowed on the hiking trails.
Camping – There are several types of camping available at Umstead. The tent/trailer campground is open March 15th to December 1st. Two primitive camps are open year-round for youth groups and non-profit organizations who want the full camping experience. Maple Hill Lodge is another option for large groups.
Fishing – Umstead has 3 lakes and fishing is allowed in each of them and the connecting streams. Regulations of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission are fully enforced.
Rent a canoe or paddle boat – Private boats and any kind of gasoline motor is not allowed, BUT you can rent a canoe or paddleboat at the boathouse on Big Lake.
Other things to know
- Umstead is open every day of the year – with the exception of Christmas Day.
- Park hours vary with the seasons so check here before you head there. Typically hours are dawn to dusk.
- There is no charge to visit the park (yay for free activities!)
- Some events—such as weddings, athletic contests, company parties, etc.—may require a Special Activity Permit. If you’re unsure whether such a permit is necessary for your event, call the park office beforehand.
- There are two entrances to the park. The Crabtree Creek entrance is located at the Northern most part of the park right off of US 70. The Reedy Creek entrance is located at the Southwest corner of the park just off of Interstate 40.
- The park office and visitor center is looted at the Crabtree Creek entrance.
- Two of the three park lakes (Big Lake and Reedy Creek Lake) do not allow swimming
- leashed dogs are allowed throughout the entire park (yay!)