I’ve been trying to sample as many of the hiking trails in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area as I can, and for a while now–probably at least since December, so pretty much forever–I’ve had my sights set on checking out Umstead State Park. On Saturday morning, more social plans were postponed, and the garden looked just fine (no weeds yet!), so Sasso and I finally had our chance for a good long hike in a new park.
Umstead State Park is near the Raleigh-Durham airport and, as you can tell from this map, the park is large–remarkably large, given that the Reedy Creek entrance (which we used) is right off Interstate 40 and very close to Cary and Research Triangle Park. Once we got into the park, the only signs of the park’s proximity to civilization were people. (Too many people, in Sasso’s opinion.)
I chose the 5.8-mile Company Mill trail, on the recommendation of a friend. (Technically, she recommended a 9-mile loop of the Company Mill trail and the Sycamore trail, but I decided that was a bit much for me.)
Saturday started foggy. Take a look at the photograph at the top of the page, of itty bitty leafies (which appeared overnight!), hanging out in the fog off our deck.
The day progressed from foggy to gloomy.
With the larger vistas a bit disappointing, I focused on the details.
As my legs began to ache from the novelty of a long hike, we were finally rewarded with sunshine.
The last mile of the trail was the most beautiful (we took the loop clockwise), with . . .
In the last mile, there was also an old mill stone, hanging out by the river. Unfortunately the view of the mill stone was blocked by some of those people I mentioned. Sasso requested that we move along too quickly to take a picture.
All in all, Umstead State Park was all I could have hoped for, with long, remote-feeling hiking trails through varied forests, multi-use trails that even look suitable for road bikes, a river that might be worth a wade in the summer, and cool ruins. In my opinion, though, Umstead can’t compete with Eno River State Park in beauty. And it’s not enough nicer than other parks that are closer to Chapel Hill, like Johnston Mill Nature Reserve and Carolina North, to be worth the trip on a regular basis.
But Sasso and I both enjoyed the chance to see somewhere new. (Or at least I did–this was Sasso’s first hike wearing a Gentle Leader, and she was so well-behaved it was almost eerie.)