A Bicycle Trip through Umstead Park

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5 - Second Leg: Finishing the Northern Extension

The northern extension of this ride goes from Big Lake past Lake Sycamore and then returns south to the Bike & Bridle Trail. After passing Big Lake, the gravel road winds a bit to the left, over a paved bridge, and then straightens as it goes over a small hill. After cresting this hill keep looking to the right for the road that goes to the Youth Camp. It has a small gate. Take this right, and then stay right.

It's not unusual to find people riding horses in this part of Umstead. Horses get 100% right of way when you're riding a bicycle. If you surprise a nervous horse it can act unpredictably: kicking out, or even throwing its rider. Please make your presence known by waving to the rider or calling out as soon as you see an equestrian. Ask if it's safe to pass, and wait for instructions.

I'll admit that when I have done this, I have not always gotten an answer from the horse's rider. If they ignore me, I assume this means it's safe to pass and do so at the greatest distance possible.

(9) Sycamore Lake (or Lake Sycamore - I've seen it listed both ways) is a little off the trail and I don't usually stop there. To find it, follow the trail until you pass a small park building on the right that has an open porch. You'll see a dirt and gravel trail that leaves your path on the left side of this building, and continues downhill. The path is a bit rough for bike wheels but nothing an experienced MTB rider can't handle. Follow this trail a quarter mile or so down between a few camp buildings, and you'll see the lake directly ahead.

(10) Another view of the lake. There's an H-shaped fishing pier that extends well out into the middle.
(11) Another view of Lake Sycamore.
(12) This open field is shown on the map as a parking area (in a black square with a letter P). After you follow the trail around this area counter-clockwise, watch for the trail to branch off to the right. It will lead up a hill and end when it reaches a wider, perpendicular trail. The northern end of this road connects to Grayln Road. Follow it to the right (south).

This part of the map can be confusing. If you have trouble getting to this road, explore a bit, or ask someone in this area.
(13) There's a long, pleasant downhill stretch here. Watch for the trail to wind to the right as you approach the power line right of way; you may need to scrub some speed in advance. A fun area for riding, but I rarely see other people here.
(14) Finishing up the northern extension. The long downhill stretch ends at this small bridge across Sycamore Creek. Looking up the hill that follows you can see that this trail ends where it joins the Bike & Bridle trial again. I usually turn left at this point and continue on the B&B Trail to Reedy Creek Lake, perhaps farther. It's wonderful to have so many scenic miles of riding, car free, this close to civilization!

Next: To Reedy Creek Lake, then Return

Text and photos are Copyright 2002 © by Scott Chilcote.

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