Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Umstead State Park

What it is: Umstead State Park is a piece of wildlife squeezed in between Raleigh and Durham near RTP.  It's amazing how you feel like you're out in the middle of the wilderness in this park so near the city.  The park offers many activities such as hiking, boating, camping, picnicking, and fishing.  There are two sections located directly off of I-40 or Hwy. 70 respectively, so there is definitely easy access from Durham. 

When we went, we decided to explore the hiking portion of the park.  We went to the Reedy Creek entrance right off of I-40 at the Harrison Ave. exit.  We decided to hike a small trail called the Inspiration Trail right near the trailhead for the Company Mill Trail.  We have discovered that hiking with a toddler and newborn is definitely not the same sport that it was before kids, so we definitely had to look for different things when picking our trail.  Our toddler only lasts about two seconds in the backpack, so we have to pick trails that are fairly short.  Loops are also good choices. 

The trail we chose was great because there were a collection of picnic tables at the start of the trail under a broad canopy of trees.  Although we didn't bring lunch, we were thinking that it would be a perfect place to stop and have lunch after a little hike.  A little further down the trail there was a really nice shelter with picnic tables and a beautiful fireplace.  We thought that would be a really fun one where you could gather with friends.  The trail itself was small and pretty.  It was surrounded by lovely forests with small sign markers staggered along the trail describing the types of trees.  While my son thought the tree descriptions were mildly interesting, the truly fascinating part of the hike was trying to find the next colored route marker on the trees along the trail. 

We only had a chance to explore this small section of the park before nap time was upon us and the toddler was "tired".  We can't wait to get back out there and explore further.  Let us know if you know of any kid-friendly trails or fun stops in this park that we haven't found yet!

What we liked: We liked how this little slice of wilderness was so close to the city.  It was also nice how there were a wide variety of trail lengths for all different types of hikers.  The picnic tables on this specific trail were a particularly nice feature.

What we would change: It was a little difficult to find the particular trail we wanted to hike once we reached the parking lot, so the be careful and watch the signs.

Website and other important information:

Website: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/wium/main.php


Park Hours-
November - February, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
March, April, September, October, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
May - August, 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day

Park Office Hours
8 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily
Closed Christmas Day

Visitor Center Hours
March – October, 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
November - February, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day

The exhibit hall is located in the park's visitor center and is open:
March – October, 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
November - February, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day

Boathouse — Hours of Operation (for canoe and row boat rental)
Weekends, beginning the first weekend in April through the second weekend in October.
Saturday & Sunday: 8:30am-4:30pm (last boat goes out at 3:30pm).


1. A view of the picnic table area before the trail

2. One of the picnic shelters

3. The nice fireplace feature at one of the shelters

4. A nice bridge on the trail

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