William B. Umstead State Park

#5 in Best Things To Do in Raleigh
William B. Umstead State Park  picture
Nathania Johnson /Flickr

Key Info

8801 Glenwood Avenue

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.6

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

In the between the cities of Raleigh, Cary and Durham is the William B. Umstead State Park and its 5,579 acres of wooded trails and picturesque lakes. You can walk, bike, hike and run through it, and you can even take a paddleboat or a canoe out for a small fee. Some travelers are chagrined at its popularity, saying that it's lost some of its delightful seclusion. But most recent visitors highly recommend it.

"At over 5,000 acres, it can be crowded along popular trails close to parking areas," one TripAdvisor user said. "However, go more than a mile up a trail … and it's very quiet. There are dozens of hiking trails, great birding opportunities, several lakes, boating/canoeing, and fishing."

You can access this free park off of US 70 (Crabtree Creek entrance off of Glenwood Avenue) or Interstate 40 (Reedy Creek entrance is exit 287). The best way to get there is to drive the 12 miles northwest from Raleigh's city center to the Crabtree Creek entrance. From December through February, this entrance of the park is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; in November, it stays open until 7 p.m. In March, April, September and October, the park remains open until 8 p.m. And between May and August, the park is open until 9 p.m. Hours for the Reedy Creek entrance vary slightly. For more information, visit the state park's website

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Time to Spend
#1 Neuse River Trail

The Neuse River Trail (also known as the Raleigh Greenway) is a portion of a nearly 28-mile path that stretches from the Falls Lake Dam in Wake Forest, North Carolina, down to the Wake/Johnston county line in Raleigh. The wide path travels along the Neuse River, across wetlands, through woods and is altogether beautiful, according to many a jogger, dog walker and bike rider.

In fact, the Neuse River Trail caused one TripAdvisor user, who hails from Boston, to consider moving to Raleigh: "This trail is a total delight.  … Locals ride their bikes [and] run their miles with their dogs … Not used to be smiled at by a total stranger … Why haven't I moved here?!"

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