A Bicycle Trip through Umstead Park

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3 - First Leg: Umstead Entrance to Big Lake

Umstead Park has two entrances and is divided in half through the middle. Drivers who enter Umstead from Glenwood (US 70) can't get to the North Harrison Entrance, and vice versa. People on bikes, horses, or on foot can easily cross into either side.

So why the split? In 1950, when it was called Crabtree Creek State Park, this park was segregated. The northern section was for whites and the southern section was for blacks. The southern section had a "swimming lake" that was very popular during the Summer. In 1955 it was renamed Umstead Park, and in 1967 it was re-integrated.

(1) Once past the gate at the end of Old Reedy Creek road, the trail is wide and easy to ride on. The Umstead map calls this the Bike & Bridle Trail. Currently covered with loose gravel, the park authority is rebuilding these roads with fine rock powder in early 2003. I've heard that this is because there were too many accidents on the gravel.

(2) The trail starts off with trees on either side, and goes up a gentle slope. Deer are a common sight here and throughout the entire park, but they wouldn't hold still long enough for me to deploy my camera! Eventually the trail turns to the right at a clearing, which is the Airport Overlook.
(3) The Airport Overlook. When these pictures were taken a new runway was being developed here. Afterwards the view was reduced; the tower is now difficult to see. It may not be a good idea to spend a long time viewing the airport these days anyway, but it is a pleasant stop. On the other side of the trial at this point is a small enclosed area with a couple of picnic tables.
(4) Another view from the overlook. It's surprising how few people who live in this area even know that this exists.

Next: Entrance to Big Lake, Continued

Text and photos are Copyright 2002 © by Scott Chilcote.

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