Umstead State Park has about 20 miles of walking and hiking trails, and on busy weekends you’re likely to see many casual walkers, trail runners, and even a few folks loaded with heavy backpacks (some training for longer backpacking adventures.)
The walking trails tend to criss cross one another, but if you hiked every mile of trail inside Umstead park, you would hike a distance about the equivalent of a solid day hiking the Appalachian Trail on a thru-hike.
Many miles of hiking trails don’t permit bicycles or horses, but 13 miles of multi-use trails allow for cycling, horseback riding, and walking.
Fishing is allowed within the park with appropriate North Carolina freshwater fishing license, and there is even a boathouse on the 55 acre Big Lake where you can rent a kayak or canoe for a quick paddle. Fish include bass and crappie.
Tips for Families
When visiting Umstead as a family, there are a couple of half mile loop trails that make for easy, fun walks for families, such as the Oak Rock and Track Trail.
For a more challenging terrain, the Loblolly Trail and Sycamore Trail provide a longer, moderately difficult hike. On these trails, we tend to hike a mile or two out and then back to the trailhead, covering a few total miles with the kids in tow.
If you are cycling the unpaved trails, beware that some of the hills are steep and can be a challenge for inexperienced riders or cyclists with a bike lacking a wide range of gears. I have struggled with my seven speed city cruiser carrying a child in a bike seat.
Fees: No park admission fees and no parking fees
Horses: Allowed on marked trails
Dogs: Allowed on leash
Camping: Allowed. The tent campground is open during the summer months and provides tent sites, water, bathrooms, and showers. Primitive campsites open year round for individuals and groups. Group camping with mess halls and dining tables also available. See http://www.ncparks.gov/william-b-umstead-state-park/camping.
The park can be accessed in a few places. On our day hike, we entered via the entrance on US 70 / Glenwood Avenue, which is also where the visitor center is located.