William B. Umstead State Park
8801 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27617
Office Phone: (919) 571-4170
WELCOME to William B. Umstead
B. Umstead State Park is a North Carolina state park in Wake County,
North Carolina in the United States.
It covers 5,439 acres nestled between the
expanding cities of Raleigh, Cary, and Durham, North Carolina. It
offers hiking, bridle, and bike trails, boat rentals, camping,
picnic areas, and educational programs.
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 Recreational Demonstration 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 Recreational
Demonstration Area was renamed a few years later after former
Governor William Bradley Umstead because of his conservation
In 1966, the Crabtree Creek and Reedy Creek
areas were united under the same name; William B. Umstead State Park
was open to everyone.
Prior to the purchase of the land for public
use, it had historically been used for timberland, as well as a site
for several mills along Crabtree Creek. Remnants of milling
operations can still be found preserved within the park.
During segregation, the Highway 70 entrance
was for whites and the Reedy Creek entrance for blacks, but there is
no real remnant of this in modern usage.
Umstead is bordered by Raleigh-Durham
International Airport on the west, Interstate 40, US 70 on the
north, and by the western outskirts of Raleigh on the east.
The main bridle and bike trail is Reedy Creek
Road, which is open to traffic in western Raleigh (connecting the
North Carolina Museum of Art to the park entrance), closed except to
rangers' vehicles as it crosses the park from east to west (a
distance of 3.5 miles), and then heads south into Cary where it
becomes open to traffic again.
At the edge of the park it connects to Black
Creek Greenway and the Lake Crabtree County Park trails. Crabtree
Creek also flows across Umstead; its source is Lake Crabtree right
at the park's edge, and it flows eastward throughout much of the
southern part of the park (with trails in varying degrees of
maintenance along its length) and then crosses Reedy Creek Road to
The main entrances are the two ends of Reedy
Creek Road, two entrances off of Ebenezer Church Road in Raleigh
near where Crabtree Creek leaves the park, the official Reedy Creek
entrance at the end of Cary's Harrison Avenue, and the park's main
entrance at Highway 70 in the north.
The latter are equipped with parking lots,
bathrooms, and campgrounds; at the Highway 70 entrance there is also
a visitors' center and a campground. Other important bike and bridle
trails include Graylyn Road, connecting the Ebenezer Church entrance
to Reedy Creek Road, and Turkey Creek Road, which winds through the
northern part of the park.
Hiking trails include the Company Mill trail
in the south and the Sycamore Trail in the north, both of which are
loops of moderate difficulty, as well as many others. Bikes and
horses are prohibited on hiking trails.
Umstead is mostly pine and mixed forest. The
topography is hilly, and it has several artificial lakes (which are
very common in Wake County, partially due to a flood control plan
implemented over the last half-century).
- Bridle Trails
- Education and Events
- Exhibit Hall
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