Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Day Hike - Umstead State Park

For the sixth year in a row, some friends and I gathered for an afternoon hike on New Year's Day. This year we chose Umstead State Park. Umstead is fairly large, and there are entrances from both I-40 and Hwy 70. We'd done a hike on the Hwy 70 side before, so we tried the I-40 side, which enters off Harrison Avenue.

We walked the "Company Mill Trail" down to Crabtree Creek and a little beyond. The trail was rocky but well-marked. The air was cold and exhilarating. A nice start to the New Year. At the trailhead:

A sample of what the trail looked like:

Once down at Crabtree Creek, it's easy to see the ruins of the old dam that was in use at least as early at 1810.

There was also a grist mill in use at the site in the 1800s, and the old mill stone is now displayed beside the trail. The mill stone was thought to be lost, but in the mid-1990's it was found in the riverbed downstream from the dam and recovered. A National Guard helicopter helped pull it out of the creekbed and place it beside the trail.

Going along further down the trail you can see the old foundation of what was probably the mill operator's house. Also further down the trail--we didn't get that far--there is a bridle trail that is part of what was the "Durham Road" that is an old, old trail connecting Raleigh and Durham. Evidently an former stage road can be found bisecting this route too and I'd like to go back soon and find it. (This information is via Randy Johnson's Hiking North Carolina, a guide worth owning, in my opinion.)

There is a nice new metal bridge that crosses Crabtree Creek and another map on the other side of the bridge for checking your route. This section of the trail is nice for stopping and enjoying climbing the rocks, checking out the old dam ruins and the mill stone, and listening to the rushing water. The entire loop of the Company Mill trail is 4.8 miles. Down to Crabtree Creek and back is just over 2 miles.

I love to see the surprising green ferns peeking out of the brown leaves in winter.

It's a nice hike and closeby too. The park was very well kept with plenty of maps at the trailhead. A highly recommended afternoon hike.


Jeff Hart said...

well done! i didn't know that about the helicopter. if you ever have some extra time and want to go further (ie. to the right after crossing the bridge and on till the bridle trail intersects), it's one of my favorite parts of the park. enjoyed hiking with you.

Jack said...

I love that tradition of hiking on New Year's Day. My personal favorite think about winter hiking is: no snakes.
Umstead is a pretty park, and the area down by where the mill was makes you wonder what it must have looked like back in the day.
Thanks for blogging about it, and for the other information I learned here.

Anonymous said...

To bad that TWC's News-14 showed up at 1PM on New Year Day at Sycamore Trail and filmed footage of my hiking group "Raleigh Recreational Hikers" then put it on the air saying we were part of yur hike which was on Comapny Mill Trail. What idiots....
Tim Armstrong
RRH Organizer

Brooke said...

Thank you for these photos and the new info! Our hike functioned as a social and economic center that day and a lovely reminder of the history of the region.

Jack said...

What's that anonymous Tim Armstrong person talking about? I didn't see any TV crew on the trail. I guess that he has us confused with some other group that hiked there. Maybe one of those groups with all the dogs.

Anonymous said...

Very nice indeed...count me in for the longer hike. And, Brooke, what astute observations...for it was a lovely economic and social center.

Too bad News14 got the video footage confused with that other hike's. Idiots.

Tiny Armstrong
MHBTYH* Organizer

*My Hike's Better Than Your Hike

Justin Wehr said...

Great info! Thanks for sharing. I've been to Umstead many times, but not that particular trail, sounds like a good one to try.

I think Duke Forest is also nice to do in the winter (but not in the summer because parts of the trail are often overgrown and full of ticks).