Loblolly Trail is in Raleigh’s city limits, so I don’t include a rating for Views and Landscape, like I do in other trail reports. While Umstead State Park is wonderful, it doesn’t compete with mountain hikes in these categories. This is a popular local hiking trail, and my review considers its location inside a city.
The Loblolly Trail in Umstead State Park.
Loblolly Trail is a 6.2 mile out and back ↔️ trail in Umstead State Park in Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s a popular, highly trafficked trail which leads from the Harrison Avenue parking lot (where Company Mill Trail is also located), along the south side of Umstead, and into the adjacent Schenck Forest, which isn’t a part of Umstead State Park.
What makes Loblolly Trail so popular? Well, you can get a decent hike out of it (6.2 miles out and back), it has some steep climbs and a few stream crossings, and it extends farther into another adjacent park. It’s also well-marked and crosses over a couple gravel multiuse trails, if you want to extend your adventure into other areas of the park. Loblolly is a pretty secluded hike for being so close to civilization. Though it’s a popular trail, on weekday mornings you’ll likely only see a handful of other hikers.
The trail is mostly gentle and accessible to anyone. It’s also less rocky than nearby Company Mill with a bit more elevation change.
Loblolly is shady, so it’s pleasant year round (even on North Carolina summer afternoons). During those summer months you can dip your toes at stream crossings for relief from the heat (if you’re wearing Tevas, of course).
Here are some tips and points of interest for hiking Loblolly Trail in Umstead State Park…
- Bathrooms ✅
- Parking here (Google Maps | Apple Maps)
- AllTrails link
- Distance: ~6.2 miles out and back
- Blazes: Blue 🔷
The first creek crossing on the Loblolly Trail in Umstead State Park.
Hiking Loblolly Trail
Loblolly is the southernmost trail in Umstead State Park, winding southeast before crossing into Schenck Forest. It’s well-marked and the terrain is gentle, making for an awesome hike for anyone inside North Carolina’s capital city.
Here is a brief description of the course, with some points of interest.
- 0.20 miles: pass over Reedy Creek Parkway, a paved road which leads left toward a multiuse trail and ranger housing, or right back toward Harrison Avenue. Carry on across the road!
- 1.0 miles: from the parking lot, the trail gradually descends over 1 mile to a pleasant creek crossing.
- After a brief climb, the trail lazily deposits hikers in a pretty, boulder-strewn creek.
- Following the theme of Loblolly (descents to streams and climbs back out from them), the trail climbs again to mile 1.8. There are a couple false trails in this stretch (two left turns you don’t want to take), but they’re obviously not the right way. Just follow the blue blazes! 🔷
- Around mile 2, hikers will walk along a pretty creek bed before climbing to a flat trail where there is evidence of controlled burns–black, charred tree trunks and debris.
- ~2.5 miles: cross the gravel Reedy Creek Multiuse Trail. Taking a left here onto the gravel road, you can make a nice loop back to your car that passes a large lake. To follow Loblolly Trail, however, go straight across.
- ~2.8 miles: hikers pass Davies Pond. There is a small trail that passes around the pond, and on the side opposite Loblolly Trail there are some nice places to sit on the ground and relax.
- Finally, you’ll cross over the S. Turkey Creek Multiuse Trail before reaching the turnaround point of Loblolly. You’ve come about 3.1 miles to the turnaround. Now head back to your car by the way you came!
With a handy park map, you can make a whole day out of exploring Umstead State Park from the Loblolly Trail.
The turnaround side on Loblolly Trail in Umstead State Park.
Immersion is how well you feel wrapped in nature and far from concrete and plastic. Loblolly gets 4/5 stars here ⭐⭐⭐⭐ because it’s hidden in rolling hills, amongst thousands of tall pine trees. You’ll hear more creeks bubbling than cars honking, 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. Even on weekends, though, you won’t be bumping elbows because the trail is over 6 miles long out and back.
For water features, Loblolly gets 2/5 stars ⭐⭐ because there aren’t any waterfalls, but you do cross a few creeks and streams. If you like walking alongside water and more stream-access, check out Loblolly Trail’s neighbor, the Company Mill Trail, which gets 3/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐.
Views and Landscape
It wouldn’t be fair to give Loblolly Trail a rating in these categories because it’s in a city (and how could it compare to my ratings for Grayson Highlands or McAfee Knob?), but you do get to hike along some ridges with steep drops. 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.
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. For better traction during leafy or wet seasons (or if you’re prone to slipping), wear a pair trail shoes or hiking boots.
Follow the blue blazes of the Loblolly Trail!