WILLIAM B UMSTEAD STATE PARK
Tucked between the growing cities of Raleigh, Cary, Durham and the corporate world of Research Triangle Park is an oasis of tranquility, a peaceful haven?William B. Umstead State Park.
Here, two worlds merge as the sounds of civilization give way to the unhurried rhythm of nature. Highways fade in the distance as trees, flowers, birds and streams form a more natural community. William B. Umstead is a place to escape the pressures of everyday life, a place to picnic in the pines, to wait for a fish to bite, to take a hike or horseback ride on trails through the woods.
Divided into two sections, Crabtree Creek and Reedy Creek, this 5,439-acre park is easily accessible from Interstate 40 and US 70. Visit William B. Umstead State Park and enjoy this region of wilderness at the city's doorstep.
November-February, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
March and October, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
April, May, September, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
June-August, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day
Park office hours:
8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Closed Christmas Day
Visitor's center hours:
November-February, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
March-October, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day
Long before the first settlers, the area now known as William B. Umstead State Park was an untamed land. American bison, elk, bobcats and wolves roamed majestic forests of oak, hickory and beech. Native Americans later inhabited the land and avenues of trade were developed nearby. Such avenues included the Occoneeche trail to the north and the Pee Dee trail to the south. In 1774, land grants opened the area for settlement.
Forests were cleared as agricultural interests sprouted. While early farming efforts were successful, poor cultivation practices and one-crop production led to depletion and erosion of the soil. During the Depression, farmers made futile attempts to grow cotton in worn-out soil around Crabtree Creek.
In 1934, under the Resettlement Administration, federal and state agencies united to buy 5,000 acres of this submarginal land to develop a recreation area. The Civilian Conservation Corps, as well as the Works Progress Administration, helped construct the site while providing much needed jobs. Four camps along with day-use and picnic facilities were built and the park opened to the public in 1937.
The state purchased this area, known as Crabtree Creek Recreation Area, for $1, and more facilities were built as the General Assembly made its first state parks division appropriation in the 1940s. In 1950, more than 1,000 acres of the park were established as a separate park for African-Americans. This area was named Reedy Creek State Park. Crabtree Creek Recreation Area was renamed a few years later after former Governor William Bradley Umstead because of his conservation efforts. In 1966, the Crabtree Creek and Reedy Creek areas were united under the same name; William B. Umstead State Park was open to everyone.
Stay a while and take time to enjoy the park. The tent/trailer campground is open Thursday through Monday, March 15 to December 15. Twenty-eight campsites, well-shaded by a hardwood forest, offer picnic tables and grills. Hookups are not available, but drinking water and restrooms with showers are centrally located. The campsites are available on a first-come basis for a modest fee.
Primitive group camping:
Two primitive campgrounds are open year round for organizations and nonprofit groups that want a more rugged camping experience. Reservations are required for use of these campgrounds.
The youth tent camp offers tent sites, a pit privy and running water. The camp accommodates up to 25 people.
Three group camps?Camp Crabtree, Camp Lapihio and Camp Whispering Pines?are available to youth groups and nonprofit organizations. Each camp includes a mess hall, dining area, camper and staff cabins and washhouses. Located in the heart of the woodlands, each camp offers ample opportunity to explore the wonders of nature. Swimming in Sycamore and Reedy Creek lakes is a popular group activity. Groups are responsible for providing swimming supervision and water safety.
Group camps are open April through October and may be rented daily in spring and fall or weekly during the summer. Accommodating between 27 and 120 people, an entire camp may be rented or a unit of cabins may be rented. Fees vary accordingly. A minimum of 10 people is required to rent a group camp or unit. Reservations for the group camps must be made in writing. Contact the park office to obtain reservation forms and fee information.
Rent a rowboat or canoe at the boathouse on Big Lake. Relaxing on these small boats is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Rentals are available daily throughout the summer and on weekends during spring and fall. Private boats and gasoline motors are not permitted.
Three manmade lakes are part of the picturesque beauty of William B. Umstead State Park. The largest is Big Lake, which lies on Sycamore Creek. From the parking lot in the Crabtree Creek section, a broad gravel path leads to this 55-acre body of water. Further downstream is Sycamore Lake and, near the intersection of Crabtree and Reedy creeks, is Reedy Creek Lake. Sycamore and Reedy Creek lakes cover about 25 acres each.
Anglers will enjoy casting a line at William B. Umstead State Park. Fishing is permitted in each of the three lakes and in the connecting streams. Common catches include bass, bluegill and crappie. Regulations of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission are enforced.