RALtoday City Guide Play Banner

Hiking trails and guide for the Triangle

Check out these 20 hiking trails catered to all skill levels in and around the City of Oaks for outdoor adventures.

A down tree.

Park rangers at William B. Umstead State Park are employed by the State of NC.

Photo by @jenneunc

Table of Contents

From quick and easy loops around town to drives that take you to fantastic lakes and mountainous areas, the Triangle has so many options to hit the trail. So lace up your hiking boots, because we’ve compiled a hiking guide for the Raleigh area with 20 routes and trails to help you plan your next adventure and experience breathtaking views.

Note: While parks and trails may be listed as open, we recommend checking park websites before visiting for further info, current trail conditions, and safest practices for the area.

Key: Easy = 🥾 | Moderate = 🥾🥾 | Hard = 🥾🥾🥾

Wake County

Blue Jay Point Nature Walk, Blue Jay Point County Park, 3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd., Raleigh

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 1.4 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No

Hike this looped trail if you’re looking for serene lake and creek views. It’s perfect for families and offers off-trails excursions and a nearby playground. Pro tip: Keep an eye out for the park’s namesake bird.

The NCMA Park during fall.

The Museum Park during fall.

Photo by Martha K.

North Carolina Museum of Art Park, NCMA, 2110 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 1.7 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: Partially; not all paths are paved

This pleasant stroll is mostly on a paved walkway. There are great views of the Museum Park’s art and flora, plus plenty of places to lay out a blanket for a picnic.

RAL-UmsteadStatePark-jan23

See the Big Lake on the Sal’s Branch Trail.

Photo by RALtoday

Sal’s Branch Trail, William B. Umstead State Park, 8801 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 2.5 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Bonus: Preview the hike

Hike this looped trail if you are looking for a pleasant stroll filled with pines and hardwoods. This is a popular area for running, hiking, and fishing.

Lake Lynn in November.

Lake Lynn has beautiful foliage in the fall.

Photo by RALtoday

Lake Lynn Trail, Lake Lynn Park, 7921 Ray Rd., Raleigh

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 2.6 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: Partially

This trail is mostly paved with some boardwalks and has little elevation change. Look out for aquatic life like ducks, geese, herons, and turtles.

A view of Jordan Lake from the New Hope Overlook.

Pause your hike to take in views of Jordan Lake.

Photo by RALtoday

New Hope Overlook Blue Route, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, 448 W. H. Jones Rd., New Hill

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 2.6 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Bonus: Preview the hike

This loop features different views of Jordan Lake, including a short detour to the edge of the lake (it’s marked). Keep in mind that there are several steep hills.

Sunset at Lake Johnson.

Hike the East Loop at sunset to try and catch these cotton candy skies.

Photo by Danny Clarke

Lake Johnson East Loop, Lake Johnson Park, 4601 Avent Ferry Rd., Raleigh

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 2.8 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes

This paved trail winds through the woods, along the lake, and across a dam. It connects to the Walnut Creek Greenway Trail. After your hike, visit the covered pavilion to take in a scenic lake overlook in a rocking chair.
Honeycutt Creek Greenway, Honeycutt Park, 1032 Clear Creek Farm Dr., Raleigh

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 5.2 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No

This trail starts as a suburban path, but transitions into a peaceful, heavily-wooded trail. Hike out to Falls Lake and back.

20200616_150515

Find this chainsaw art in Umstead State Park.

Photo by @sarah.flows

Company Mill Loop, William B. Umstead State Park, 2100 N. Harrison Ave., Cary

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 5.9 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No

Hike this trail if you want a mix of nature and history. In the beginning of the hike you will come across Crabtree Creek where the Company Mill existed in the 1800s. There, you can spot the remains of an old dam before crossing a bridge into the trail’s looped section.

RAL-UmsteadStatePark-JULY2022

Pups are welcome at Umstead State Park.

Photo by @hanwellyn

Loblolly Trail, William B. Umstead State Park, 2100 N. Harrison Ave., Cary

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 6.4 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No

This out-and-back trail is popular for runners. Wear sturdy shoes; the trail has many roots and rocks + can be muddy after rainy weather.
Ravenridge Mountains-to-Sea-Trail, 11900-11924 Raven Ridge Rd., Raleigh

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 6.8 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No

Hike this out-and-back route for a taste of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail — a 1,175-mile footpath stretching across NC. There are great views of Falls Lake for most of the hike.

Williamson Preserve

The Triangle Land Conservancy has eight public nature preserves.

Photo by @ihave88keys_

Williamson Preserve to Neuse River Walk, 4409 Mial Plantation Rd., Raleigh

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 8.3 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No

Explore the Bailey and Sarah Williamson Preserve, open every day from dawn until dusk. Be on the lookout for wildflowers and a turtle or two.

Sunset on the Mountains to Sea Trail.

Walk or run the Mountains to Sea Trail.

Photo by @wes_claytor

Falls Lake Trail, Falls Lake State Recreation Area, 13300 Creedmoor Rd., Wake Forest

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾🥾
  • Length: 24.9 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No

Hike this long stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake if you’re up for a challenging trek with a total elevation gain of 1,751 feet. Be prepared for the moderately rocky and root-filled terrain. While the hike is considered to be difficult, the trail is smooth and clear which makes this route conquerable.

Durham County

Couch Mountain Trail, Duke Forest, NC-751, Durham

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 1.8 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No

Hike this trail if you are looking to explore broad paths filled with vibrant wildflowers in Duke Forest.
Bobbit Hole Trail to Cole Mill Trail Loop, Eno River State Park, 4113 Cole Mill Rd., Durham

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 2.4 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No

This trail features the Bobbit Hole — a notable geological feature with a mysterious history. Cole Mill once operated on the far side of the river from 1814-1908. You can also spot the remains of the Alpha Woolen Mills and the foundation of an off-campus Duke fraternity house.

A suspension bridge of the Eno River in November.

This suspension bridge is over the Eno River.

Photo by @sladesnaps

Cox Mountain Trail, Eno River State Park, 6101 Cole Mill Rd., Durham

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 4.6 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No

Hike this trail if you’re looking for phenomenal river views. The trial leads you through abundant greenery to a suspension bridge over the Eno River.
American Tobacco Trail from Durham, 409 Blackwell St., Durham

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 22.2 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Dogs and horses allowed on portions of this trail
  • Wheelchair accessible: Partially; some areas are paved

Find the beginning of this trail near Durham Bulls Athletic Park at Morehead Avenue and Blackwell Street. This expansive trail is mixed-terrain, composed of gravel and paved paths. You’ll travel the Triangle through Durham, Chatham, and Wake counties. Look for various environmental gems including a lake and wildflower fields.

Orange County

Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail, 320 Elizabeth Brady Rd., Hillsborough

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 1.3 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No

Serving as the location of former NASCAR races from 1949 to 1968, the remains of this speedway are truly a blast from the past. On the trail you are bound to stumble upon abandoned retro race cars, cement stairs used for stadium-style seating, vintage signs, and mid-century items scattered in the area.

The over look at Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area.

Look out for signs to the overlook.

Photo by RALtoday

Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail, 625 Virginia Cates Rd., Hillsborough

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 2.3 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Bonus: Preview the hike

Hike this trail for scenic mountain views — the natural area is the highest point in Orange County reaching 867 feet. The mountain is home to diverse habitats that support mountain-specific plant and animal life such as the purple fringeless orchid and the brown elfin butterfly. Pro tip: Combine this hike with the Chestnut Oak Loop to see different views of the mountain.

Wormhole and Pumpkin Loop Trails, 9115 Seawell School Rd., Chapel Hill

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 4.6 miles
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No

This is a no-nonsense route that is wide with dirt and gravel terrain, offering interesting single track pathways that connect from the main access. The first half mile of the trail elevates gradually, so expect some minimal climbing.

Harnett County

Water flowing off of a trail at Raven Rock State Park.

See waterfalls at Raven Rock State Park.

Photo by RALtoday

Campbell Creek Loop Trail to Lanier Falls, Raven Rock State Park, 3009 Raven Rock Rd., Lillington

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 4.6
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Bonus: Preview the hike

About an hour from downtown Raleigh, this trail is situated along the banks of the Cape Fear River. Keep your eyes peeled for the detour to the waterfalls.

Trail map

Explore the map below to see which hikes are close to you. Even if the one you’re eyeing is a hike, we promise the trail is worth the drive.

RALtoday phone
Good news for Raleigh.
Get the best local news & events sent to your inbox each morning, for free.