Raleigh, NC: Lake Crabtree

Looking to stretch your legs and get back to the outdoors? This 6-mile loop winds through the lowlands and hills of Lake Crabtree Park in the middle of Morrisville, less than 20 minutes from Raleigh.

The Lake Crabtree Trail walks the entire perimeter of Lake Crabtree for a relaxing getaway tucked in the middle of the city. Within easy driving distance from Morrisville, Cary and Raleigh, the trail negotiates dirt paths in the woods and boardwalks over low lying areas. No motorized boats are allowed on the lake, so you can enjoy peace and quiet while walking or watching sailboats on the water.

The trailhead can be found at the end of the road leading into the park. The first part of the path serves as a mountain biking trail as well, so be aware and yield to bikers. Walk beneath a canopy of green to the trail's first split. Go right, downhill, and reach the Heather Carr Memorial Overlook. This a great place to sit and watch the sailboats, canoes, kayaks and other lake activity.

The trail curves along the lakeshore and climbs to the dam creating Lake Crabtree. At this point, the trail joins Black Creek Greenway. Another observation deck along the greenway offers water fountains for both people and dogs. At Weston Parkway, the Lake Crabtree Trail departs from Black Creek Greenway, curving to the right over a bridge across Black Creek. From this point onward, the trail can be poorly marked. Look for blue blazes on the trees and, as a general rule, bear right at any unmarked junctions to continue following the lake.

Cross boardwalks over lowlying areas and bubbling creeks that feed into Crabtree Lake before emerging near Evans Road. The trail briefly passes behind some office buildings at Southport and goes on to follow Aviation Parkway. Here, the trail is close to the road and exposed, but it soon turns right and returns to the woods. An open field of swishing grass precedes the end of the trail and leads to a parking lot. Walk through the lot and take a right onto the park road. Follow the road to return to the trailhead and your car.

-Mapped by John Thomas

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 9.8



Location: 35.840012, -78.79078

The trail begins in the woods and immediately splits. Take a right down the hill.


Location: 35.839942, -78.789836

Cross a small wooden bridge. At the split on the other side, go right.


Location: 35.838707, -78.788978

A short walkers-only path leads to the Heather Carr Memorial and a nice overlook of the lake. Rejoin the trail a few hundred yards ahead.


Location: 35.841317, -78.784901

At the drainage near I-40, bear right to continue the loop around the lake.


Location: 35.839455, -78.78312

Pass through a chainlink fence to head for the dam.


Location: 35.839177, -78.782219

Turn right at the top of the dam onto Black Creek Greenway, a paved path. Continue on this path for 3/4 mile until you come to Weston Parkway.


Location: 35.830323, -78.785888

At Weston Parkway, the trail passes under the road and splits to the right, away from Black Creek Greenway.


Location: 35.832549, -78.792433

Between miles 2 and 3.5 there are multiple unmarked trails branching off. As a rule, continue to bear right toward the lake to stay on the trail.


Location: 35.828374, -78.807946

After crossing a wooden boardwalk, the trail turns right and travels alongside Evans Road. The trail is lower than the road, however, with trees separating the two.


Location: 35.830879, -78.810586

A bridge crosses Crabtree Creek before the trail departs from Evans Rd.


Location: 35.832358, -78.809856

After walking on a large grassy path, the trail turns left into the woods.


Location: 35.832984, -78.810564

After 4 miles, the trail travels between offices and Lake Crabtree through the Southport Business Park.


Location: 35.840099, -78.807453

The trail crosses another boardwalk leading up to Aviation Parkway.


Location: 35.840603, -78.807968

The trail turns right at Aviation Parkway to follow the road.


Location: 35.8445, -78.801724

After walking alongside Aviation Parkway for just under half a mile, follow the trail to the right back into the woods.


Location: 35.842152, -78.79608

After walking across a large open field, arrive at a parking lot. Pass through this lot and head for the park road.


Location: 35.841943, -78.794943

Turn right at the park road and follow back to the trailhead.


Location: 35.839229, -78.789235

© John Thomas


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Location: 35.830392, -78.786145

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Location: 35.832828, -78.791971

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Location: 35.840047, -78.807292

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Location: 35.842221, -78.796424

© John Thomas