Raleigh, NC: Sycamore and Company Mill Circuit

Looking for an oasis in the middle of the Research Triangle? Hike this 10-mile circuit through the towering pines and fern-filled ravines of William B. Umstead State Park.
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This lengthy circuit connects the two main trails of the North and South parts of the park. Begin the hike at the back of the picnic area next to Shelter 1.

The trail is mostly flat with only a few steep, but short, hills. Most of the trail is dirt or pine needles, which makes for good trail running, but there are rocky sections, particularly on the hills. towering loblolly pines, huge oaks, and fern-filled ravines. Wildlife, which is hard to come by in the Triangle, is easy to find on this hike. I saw 3 snakes, 2 deer, several fish (including one that ate a butterfly), a frog, and a great blue heron. Bring plenty of water if you are doing this hike in warmer months. Without long stops, the hike can be done in about 5 hours.

Mapped by John Thomas during the 2010 BACKPACKER Map Contest

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 17.4



Location: 35.871912, -78.761156

From parking lot, head east into mixed forest of loblolly and pine.


Location: 35.871838, -78.759388

Access the trailhead at the back of the picnic area next to Shelter 1


Location: 35.872029, -78.757993

Trail Junction: Stay straight on the Sycamore Trail (blue triangles)


Location: 35.871768, -78.757585

Cross wooden bridge over creek. Go left after crossing the bridge


Location: 35.873455, -78.750612

Check out the open field just off the trail


Location: 35.867891, -78.747758

Stay straight to cross gravel road remaining on Sycamore Trail


Location: 35.861492, -78.751255

Turn left, heading east, and begin Sycamore Trail loop. in 0.1 mi., cross road.


Location: 35.862013, -78.741084

Cross bridge and go right along the creek.


Location: 35.860761, -78.740097

Stop and savor this section of the Sycamore Trail where the creek takes a right hand turn below a towering ravine with an eroded gully feeding into the creek.


Location: 35.856483, -78.740805

The trail begins to parallel the Sycamore Creek here walking along the high bank


Location: 35.853953, -78.746846

Reach gravel road and turn left. Cross bridge and turn right onto Company Mill Spur Trail (white diamonds)


Location: 35.853718, -78.747586

Turn right onto Company Mill Trail (orange squares)


Location: 35.8537, -78.760225

Trail crosses Reedy Creek Road. Before crossing, check out the massive oak tree with a large hole in the trunk to the right of the Company Mill Trail.


Location: 35.841891, -78.762521

The trail turns and begins to parallel Crabtree Creek.


Location: 35.844761, -78.756663

Bridge over Crabtree Creek goes to parking area off Harrison Avenue. Optional: If you want to do a point to point hike with an auto shuttle, turn right here. Otherwise, continue north.


Location: 35.844221, -78.755504

A millstone from the Company Mill that used to operate on the creek here, is displayed next to the trail.


Location: 35.846917, -78.75235

Bear down on one of the more strenuous climbs of the hike. Note quartz rocks strewn on the ground.


Location: 35.850379, -78.749217

Cross back over Reedy Creek Rd to close the Company Mill Loop.


Location: 35.853735, -78.747715

Finish of Company Mill Loop. Follow Company Mill Spur Trail (white diamonds) back to SMC012. Cross bridge and go left onto the remaining portion of the Sycamore Trail (blue triangles).


Location: 35.861387, -78.751298

Complete Sycamore Loop at SMC008. Retrace route to the parking lot.

Trail Signs

Location: 35.872012, -78.757929

Follow the Sycamore Trail.

Soft paths

Location: 35.872342, -78.758143

Pine needles cover the path from the trailhead.

Footbridge over Pots Branch

Location: 35.871751, -78.757542

Forest View

Location: 35.874394, -78.754474

Meadow View

Location: 35.873542, -78.750837

Open forest floor

Location: 35.871803, -78.751566

Big Tree

Location: 35.867317, -78.747575


Location: 35.862344, -78.751094


Location: 35.861022, -78.740366

The trail crosses over a tributary of Sycamore Creek.

Side Stream Off Sycamore Creek

Location: 35.860674, -78.740151


Location: 35.857405, -78.740323

The trail cuts through oaks and ferns in the bed of Sycamore Creek.

Trail Along Sycamore Creek

Location: 35.855701, -78.741868

Creek view

Location: 35.855005, -78.742812


Location: 35.855805, -78.745344

Creek at the junction

Location: 35.853683, -78.746932

Roots on the trail

Location: 35.856814, -78.757532

Another Big Tree

Location: 35.853927, -78.76045


Location: 35.851109, -78.76251

Crabtree Creek

Location: 35.842343, -78.761694

Crabtree Creek

Location: 35.843874, -78.758218

Crabtree Creek

Location: 35.843108, -78.759162

Crabtree Creek

Location: 35.844187, -78.754957


Location: 35.854344, -78.748047

Back to the trailhead and parking lot

Location: 35.861231, -78.751266

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