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Umstead Loop

  4.0 ( 2 ) Favorite


12.9 mile 20.7 kilometer loop
99% Runnable


Ascent: 678' 207 m
Descent: -678' -207 m
High: 452' 138 m
Low: 258' 79 m


Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 7% (4°)


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Trail shared by Alex Ko

A scenic 12 mile loop around Umstead State Park (two ponds, steep hill section, and one stream crossing!)

Alex Ko

Features Fall Colors · Fishing · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Parking lot access doesn't open until 7:30 am


This loop crosses two ponds, with excellent hills on the east side of Umstead, and a stream crossing at the end (on the Pott's Branch Trail).

Need to Know

Restroom at the start in the visitor's center next to Sal's Branch Trail.

Runner Notes

Gravel trails for most of the way, except the beginning on Sal's Branch Trail and at the end on the blue trail (Sycamore Trail) leading back to Sal's Branch (dirt and roots).


Start on Sal's Branch Trail, get to Umstead Park Lake, cross the bridge and make your way to the red MUT (multi-use trail). This is a long straight climb up to the red multi-use trail. Once you reach the red multi-use trail there is a water fountain available immediately on the left.

Follow the red trail south, then east past Reedy Creek Lake and prepare for hills on the east side of Umstead.

On the east side of Umstead ,the trail hugs Ebenezer Church Road, and you'll cross two small bridges before the trail heads into the forest on the left.

Welcome to the hilly section of Umstead! After turning left into the forest you'll climb several gravelly hills until you get to the top and the gravel road ends at a T-intersection (intersection with the Graylyn Multiuse Trail).

Take a right, then follow the Graylyn Multi-Use Trail until you see a road on the left. The blue trail (Sycamore Trail) intersects this road, and when you see the blue trail, take a right onto the trail.

Follow the blue trail (Sycamore Trail) to the end which leads you to Potts Branch Trail (orange). Cross the stream at Pott's Branch Trail and continue until you get to the parking for Potts Branch and Sycamore.

When you cross the parking lot, you'll see Sal's Branch Trail. Take a right on Sal's Branch Trail and follow it until you arrive back at the starting point.

Flora & Fauna

Lots of deer, especially on the south side of Umstead.

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Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes


  4.0 from 2 votes
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in North Carolina


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139 Since Sep 23, 2019



Looking Down the Trail - Sal's Branch Trail - William B. Umstead Park
Aug 28, 2017 near Cary, NC
View of the Big Lake.
Aug 23, 2019 near Cary, NC
View of Sal's Branch.
Aug 23, 2019 near Cary, NC
Intersection of the trail with Reedy Creek Lake
Apr 15, 2019 near Cary, NC
Flat, even terrain, epic! Time to hit the gas! After this you'll find a turn and up the "hill" - you've got to finish strong!
Apr 18, 2016 near Cary, NC
Half way.
Apr 18, 2016 near Cary, NC


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