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Company Mill Trail | Umstead State Park

Parking & Accessibility
Blazes & Markings
Immersion
Water Features
Company Mill Trail at Umstead State Park in Raleigh is a wonderful local trail that immerses you in rolling, forested hills and takes you alongside a pleasant stream. The 5.8 mile distance is awesome for a trail in a populated area, and you can get your heartrate up on the gentle hills and climbs. I recommend visiting on weekday mornings and afternoons to feel truly disconnected from the city.

Company Mill Trail is inside Raleigh’s city limits, so I don’t include a rating for Views and Landscape, like I do in other trail reports. Umstead State Park is in a city, near an airport, and doesn’t compete with mountain hikes in these categories. Company Mill is a treasured local hiking trail, and my review considers its location.

The sunshine through the trees on the Company Mill Trail in Raleigh.

Company Mill Trail is a 5.8 mile lollipop 🍭 shaped trail in Umstead State Park in Raleigh, North Carolina. I call it a lollipop trail because you walk about one mile into the forest before starting the trail’s loop, forming a sort of lollipop shape. Company Mill takes about 2 hours to complete, starting from the Harrison Avenue parking lot.

Company Mill is one of my favorites in Raleigh because it’s pretty secluded for being so close to civilization. In fact, when I visit Umstead on weekday mornings at walk Company Mill, I usually only see a handful of other people for the whole 2 hours.

Company Mill Trail is a gentle course that teases hikers with some of the rocky terrain that gives Eastern US hiking trails their character. It walks alongside a peaceful stream and climbs lazily through loblolly forest. The trail is deep enough into Umstead Park that you won’t hear many cars (though planes and helicopters are common), and you’re bound to feel “away” from Raleigh.

The trail gets moderate sun so it’s pleasant even on chilly fall and winter mornings, and during the summer you can dip your toes in the stream for relief from the heat (if you’re wearing Tevas, of course).

Here are some pointers and points of interest for hiking Company Mill Trail in Umstead State Park…

Points of Interest along Company Mill Trail

Company Mill is a 5.8 mile loop, but it’s more like 6 miles of hiking. You’ll walk a short ways to a pavilion before descending onto the first section of the trail, which is where the 5.8 mile measurement begins. This gradual descent is about a mile long, taking you to the trail’s loop, deeper in the park.

Section One: Miles 0-1 from the pavilion to the millstone bridge

  • 0.25 miles: pass a trail offshoot called “Inspiration Trail,” a short detour that leads back to Company Mill. I don’t normally take this offshoot, but if it’s your first time hiking here, go ahead!
  • 0.9 miles: a nice ridge overlooking a stream, which you’ll soon walk beside. You’ll have a couple more views like this one as you hike.
  • 1 mile: the trail drops toward a long bridge, where you’ll cross a stream and begin Company Mill’s loop. You can also explore the stream here.
  • Here, I usually go clockwise around the trail. I like the second half of the trail better when I go clockwise, and I like to save it for last.

    The sun glowing in the trees above the Company Mill trailhead in November (first) and the orange blazes of the trail (second).

    Section Two: Miles 1-2.45 from the millstone bridge, clockwise to Reedy Creek M.U.T.

    At about the 1.45 miles mark, after a short, pleasant walk along the stream, the trail climbs up and away, deeper in Umstead State Park. The terrain for the next mile is easy and gentle, with some rocks and plenty of roots. Eventually, at ~mile 2.45, you’ll cross the Reedy Creek Multiuse Trail, which is gravel and stretches from east to west through the entire park. Cross the gravel multiuse trail and continue following the orange blazes of Company Mill.

    Section 3: Miles 2.45-4

    After crossing over the Reedy Creek M.U.T. the terrain becomes a bit rougher, with more climbs and descents. Nothing too bad, though, and very accessible for any fitness level. This section is the top of the loop, where you’ll eventually turn back and begin hiking south toward your car.

    At ~mile 3.7, you’ll pass a small spur trail that leads to another multiuse trail (Graylyn). Take a hard right and keep following the orange blazes.

    After passing this trail spur, you’ll soon reach the Reedy Creek M.U.T. (again) at ~mile 4. Cross the gravel trail carry on!

    Section 4: Miles 4-5.1, from the final multiuse trail crossing back to the main bridge

    The trail continues on through the Reedy Creek M.U.T. back to the stream where you began the loop. This little 1.1 mile stretch is quite pretty and has some nice elevation change.

    Once you reach the stream and turn right, there are a few areas where you can sit alongside the stream. Here, you’ll also pass the Company Mill millstone, a historic plaque dedicating the space to an early 1800s economic and social center for the area, the Page family’s mill.

    This short stretch of trail alongside the stream is gorgeous, so I save it for last by doing a clockwise loop.

    The bridge connecting the loop to the first section of the trail.

    Section 5: climb back to your car from miles 5.1 to ~5.8

    The final section of the trail is returning to the parking lot by climbing back on the trail you used to reach the loop. There are some strong uphill portions here to finish this rewarding Umstead State Park hike.

    What Makes Company Mill So Great?

    I love all trails, so my ratings don’t mean that much. And while Company Mill doesn’t get a score for Views or Landscape because it’s in a city, the trail is a favorite of mine (and many others) in Raleigh. It’s peaceful with gentle terrain and walks alongside a pleasant creek.

    Immersion

    Immersion is how well you feel wrapped in nature and far from concrete and plastic. Company Mill gets 4/5 stars here ⭐⭐⭐⭐ because it buries you in the rolling hills of Raleigh, amongst thousands of tall trees. You won’t hear traffic, but you’re near an airport, so planes and helicopters do make appearances. Also, if you visit on a weekday morning or afternoon, you’re not likely to bump into too many people.

    After spending some time hiking on Company Mill Trail, check out it’s popular neighbor, the Loblolly Trail.

    Water Features

    For water features, Company Mill gets 3/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐ because there aren’t any waterfalls, but you do cross a few creeks and streams, and spend almost a mile walking right next to a tranquil waterway. Don’t waterfalls make hikes so much better? Don’t worry. Company Mill won’t disappoint you, though you won’t get to see any waterfalls.

    Views and Landscape

    It wouldn’t be fair to give the Company Mill Trail a rating in these categories because it’s in a city (and how could it compare to my ratings for Grayson Highlands or Mount Le Conte in the Smoky Mountains?), but you do get to hike along some ridges that provide overlooks of the stream. A couple of these vantage points are quite high! The landscape is also beautiful, with the moderately dense loblollies and other trees covering rolling hills and ridges.

    I love spending mornings and afternoons on Company Mill!

    Truly a pleasant Raleigh treasure.

    Gear You’ll Need

    The hike takes me about 2 hours to complete, hiking at a moderate place. If you’re taking photos or taking your time, a water bottle would be beneficial. You’re very close to civilization on Company Mill, though, so there’s no need for serious hiking gear. A good sun hat and pair of Teva hiking sandals is all you really need to have a great hike.

Parking & Accessibility
Blazes & Markings
Immersion
Water Features
Company Mill Trail at Umstead State Park in Raleigh is a wonderful local trail that immerses you in rolling, forested hills and takes you alongside a pleasant stream. The 5.8 mile distance is awesome for a trail in a populated area, and you can get your heartrate up on the gentle hills and climbs. I recommend visiting on weekday mornings and afternoons to feel truly disconnected from the city.
Company Mill Trail at Umstead State Park in Raleigh is a wonderful local trail that immerses you in rolling, forested hills and takes you alongside a pleasant stream. The 5.8 mile distance is awesome for a trail in a populated area, and you can get your heartrate up on the gentle hills and climbs. I recommend visiting on weekday mornings and afternoons to feel truly disconnected from the city.
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George
Georgehttps://georgecallahan.com
George Callahan is the creator of Pine Tree Poet. He is an author of fantasy stories and an adventure poet. He prefers mountains and pine trees to most other things, and usually takes his dog Cowboy along for the ride.

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SUMMARY

Company Mill Trail at Umstead State Park in Raleigh is a wonderful local trail that immerses you in rolling, forested hills and takes you alongside a pleasant stream. The 5.8 mile distance is awesome for a trail in a populated area, and you can get your heartrate up on the gentle hills and climbs. I recommend visiting on weekday mornings and afternoons to feel truly disconnected from the city.
Parking & Accessibility
Blazes & Markings
Immersion
Water Features

More Trail Reviews

Company Mill Trail at Umstead State Park in Raleigh is a wonderful local trail that immerses you in rolling, forested hills and takes you alongside a pleasant stream. The 5.8 mile distance is awesome for a trail in a populated area, and you can get your heartrate up on the gentle hills and climbs. I recommend visiting on weekday mornings and afternoons to feel truly disconnected from the city.Company Mill Trail | Umstead State Park