Umstead State Park is not an escape. Let's just go ahead and get that cleared up. You're not going to Umstead State Park to get away, to find yourself in some remote place or discover some backcountry route.
But that being said, Umstead State Park is a good place to get away. If you need a quick break from the city or suburbs, then this is a welcome reprieve. Just hop on I-540, take a quick trip down Hwy 70 and there you are in the middle of the Triangle, but without the intrusive shapes of buildings and mobile phone towers.
I've hiked longer trails in the park like Sycamore Trail (7.2 miles) and Company Mill Trail (5.8 miles) but on this particular weekend we explored Pott's Branch trail, an easy 1.3 mile trail that wanders along a stream. I was desperate to fit in some sort of exploring on a Sunday morning, but I was sore and we were short on time, so Pott's Branch Trail made the top of the list.
Pott's Branch Trail meanders along a stream and through some hardwood forest and provides some nice easy views.
Pott's Branch Trail has one section that's been burned. As a sign explains, "A careless park visitor failed to extinguish their cigarette and threw that cigarette onto the forest floor on a warm, dry, windy day." It's just a small section that's affected, but it's a reminder of the wildfire devastation out west.
Trails in Umstead range from the 0.4 mile Inspiration Trail with benches and interpretive signs to the 7.2 mile Sycamore Trail for hikers and trail runners to 13 miles of multi-use trails for mountain bikers and horse riders, and the trails are clearly marked by signs at parking areas and blazes and a nicely drawn map.
Eventually we finished the loop and explored Big Lake where a bridge crosses the stream and another bridge extends over the water.
It's a pretty place to take the kids to explore, especially if you want to play around Big Lake, one of the three small lakes in the park. Umstead is also a popular spot for hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, and equestrians.
Have you ever been to Umstead State Park? What's your favorite trail? Let me know in the comments!