Park at the Locust Lot trailhead down the gravel road at the sharp bend in Municipal Drive. The gravel road is part of the Pumpkin Loop Trail
. All trails in this section of Carolina North begin from the Pumpkin Loop Trail
. Trails are not marked with signs, so you need to pick up a map at the Municipal Drive parking lot, marked with a sign reading "Carolina North Land Management & Trail Information Office." Trail maps are available in a box outside the office. Each trail has small, round number markers at somewhat regular intervals to help you locate your place on the trail in relation to the map. First time trail users will be frustrated by the relatively poor marking of the trails where they intersect with one another, but the map and numbering system works once you get used to it.
Trail is mainly used by mountain bikers and trail runners. Trail has many sharp twists and turns so be alert for fast-moving cyclists. While dogs on leash are permitted, it is not a good idea to take dog
Gently rolling trail through Carolina North, off the main path of the Pumpkin Loop Trail
. After about a mile, you come to a shallow lake with benches for a rest. The trail continues another 3 miles over gradually rolling terrain, with a few interesting rocky outcrops along the way.
From the parking lot, go through the gate on the Pumpkin Loop Trail
about 1/4 mile to reach the beginning of the Crow Branch Overlook Loop Trail
. Turn Northeast to enter the singletrack and climb the hill to start the trail and then turn right, assuming you'll take the trail in a counterclockwise direction.
It is rolling terrain for a little under 1 mile to the pond/lake. The trail gradually climbs a bit through rolling terrain for the next mile, with interesting rock outcrops to negotiate. Another 3/4 miles after the pond/lake, the trail goes straight across a wide utility easement (the PSNC Corridor).
About 1/2-way through the loop, about 2 miles in, if you continue straight you'll be dumped onto the very wide Pumpkin Loop Trail
. Instead, turn sharply left at this point to stay on the Crow Branch Overlook Loop Trail
Another 1/2-mile from this point, the trail again crosses the utility easement, but instead of going straight across you have to turn left on the easement for about 25 feet before turning right to regain the main Crow Branch Overlook Loop Trail
Toward the end of the trail, it crosses another large hill where it is possible to exit right onto the (boring) Pumpkin Loop Trail
. Don't! Instead continue up and left across the hill to get in the last 1/4 mile of the Crow Branch Overlook Loop Trail
. The trail ends when it regains the original hill you used to start the trail, and you exit right at that point to rejoin the Pumpkin Loop Trail
Deer and birds are often seen. It is a large forested area, so more reclusive wildlife such as beavers, foxes and coyotes might be around, too.