Raleigh, NC

2 Top Hiking Trails in the Raleigh Area Open in May

Alyssa Atkinson

The best ones to check out.

Photo of Salem Laketaken by the author

I have been a pretty active individual for most of my life. From the time I was a little girl, I started getting involved in sports.

It all started in first grade when I joined the recreation basketball team. I became hooked early on, grew to love the sport, and practiced often. Even when I was in fifth grade, I played on spring travel teams after winter basketball ended. I traveled 30 - 45 minutes to and from practice each day, and I truly loved playing in games.

Basketball was my main passion for many years, but it also led me to find others later on in my life. When I was in eighth grade, I joined the cross-country team as a way to stay in shape for the upcoming winter basketball season. I had quite a bit of natural talent, and I was able to earn a scholarship to run cross-country and track in college.

Even now that I have graduated, I love to run, hike, and/or walk every single day. Although I have just moved to North Carolina this year, I have already been on the hunt for some beautiful trails to run and hike. I have already found a couple that I really love, and I wanted to share them with all of you. So, let's take a look at my current two favorite trails in my new home state, North Carolina.

1. Salem Lake Trail

This trail is located near Wake Forest University. It is a nice soft surface trail that doesn't have many roots or technical parts, so I have no trouble running on it. It is a little ways outside of Raleigh (1+ hours), but still driveable for sure. The rail is a nice big loop around a lake with beautiful views.

It also has all the mile markers, and while my GPS watch didn't align perfectly when I ran on it, I was able to use the split feature (I have a Garmin Forerunner) to get my correct total mileage and mile splits.

This trail is absolutely perfect for long runs or hikes, because the loop is fairly large (7 miles). In fact,

"Salem Lake Trail encircles Salem Lake in Salem Lake Park. The trail is one of the most popular outings for exercise in the area, and you can see equestrians along with runners, walkers and bikers."

This is a trail that I really enjoyed running on, and one that I can see myself going back to more in the future. I have also went to this trail with my parents, and they really loved it as well.

The final thing that I really like about the trail is the convenient parking area which is right next to the start of the trail. I hate when the trail entrance is really far from the parking lot, or when it is incredibly difficult to find. I didn't find this to be an issue. Even when I was visiting this trail for my very first time ever, I had no problems locating the trail or the parking lot.

Photo of Salem Lake Trailtaken by the author

2. William B. Umstead State Park

William B. Umstead State Park truly took my breath away the first time that I visited it. It has an expansive array of different little trails you can take, but it also has a straight shot gravel trail which I enjoy walking and running on. The trail has loads of towering trees, so you definitely feel fully immersed in nature when you visit this state park.

I also see a lot of bikers on this trail, so it appears that people enjoy off-road biking here. While I tend to stick to running or walking on it, there is obviously the ability to exercise in a number of other ways as well.

Just to give you more of an idea of the layout of Umstead State Park, here is part of the website description:

"Hikers, trail runners, bicyclists and equestrians cherish the extensive network of hiking and multi-use trails at William B. Umstead State Park. Trailheads on both sides of the park—accessible from Interstate 40 and US 70—surround three manmade lakes."

Due to its beautiful views and soft surface gravel trails, Umstead State Park is one of the trails I enjoy making the trek to visit when I have the extra time. While it is definitely a drive for me, I think it is worth that extra time and effort for the joy it brings me.

Final Thoughts

No matter where you live, there are likely trails and local landmarks just waiting to be explored. Every time I find a new trail, it's like a brand new adventure.

The excitement of exploring a new trail or park is unlike any other, and I encourage everyone to get out there and appreciate the natural world we live in.

I am certainly glad that I have explored some of the beautiful trails available to me in North Carolina, the beautiful state which I currently reside in. Even though these trails require extra time and planning to make the drive over to, they are definitely worth it. I hope you can find the same sort of joy on these trails.

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Ohio U XC/Track alum. I love to run. I blog about food, health, fitness, lifestyle, etc. Personal Blog - nomeatfastfeet.com | Electrical and Computer Engineering Grad.

Raleigh, NC

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