Good hikes in Raleigh NC


Outdoor lovers considering a move to the area may be asking “Is Raleigh good for hiking”—and the answer is: absolutely! The better question may be “How will you pick from all the options?!”

One of the best things about living in central NC, and Wake County in particular, is that there’s something for just about everyone here—and that’s especially true for those who love the outdoors.

In addition to a vibrant recreational and spectator sports scene, you’ll find outdoor activities galore. In particular, spread in a series of networks across the county, are 180 miles of greenways and 310 miles of trails. They cover a variety of terrains, offering hikers and runners—as well as cyclists and even horseback riders—plenty of room to explore.

Many local greenways connect to still more trails in neighboring towns, creating a web of paved or otherwise well-maintained routes perfect for many challenge levels. Most allow dogs if they’re leashed. Here are a few favorites to get you started:


Umstead Park is among the largest in our area, extending just North of I-40 to just South of Highway 70. With more than 20 miles of marked and managed trails—including the 13-mile Multiuse Trail where you’ll share the road with horseback riders and cyclists—this beautiful park surrounds three manmade lakes.

This handy park map gives you a sense of the scope and variety. Try these segments:

  • The Sycamore Trail runs 7.2 lush miles, with gentle rise and falls in elevation.
  • Sals Branch Loop is just under 3 miles. You don’t have to worry about too much hill climbing, and you’ll love the views of Big Lake!
  • On a day when you just need to clear your head, or take a more leisurely stroll, try Inspiration Trail (with a name like that, who wouldn’t love it?). This easy one winds just under ½ mile along bubbling Crabtree Creek.


Raleigh’s Falls Lake Park has 14 miles of trails in varying lengths and types, including several TRACK trails designed for kids. TRACK trails have brochures and signs that allow kids (and curious adults) to learn more about what’s living in the park in a self-guided tour. There’s also a lake and campgrounds here. Falls Lake Park is part of the ambitious Mountains-to-Sea Trail venture in North Carolina that aims to establish a hiking route from the Smokies toward the Outer Banks.


Another piece of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is the Neuse River Greenway in Raleigh. Covering 27+ miles point-to-point, its paths are (fortunately), broken into different manageable segments and parking areas. In addition to a largely paved surface, there’s a winding boardwalk giving you a great view of the wetlands.

Overall, it’s an easy trail—even okay for those pushing strollers—with the exception of one steep uphill and downhill at around 3.5 miles. There are also dirt spur routes that lead down to the river, but these may be narrow and steeper than the main trail so be prepared for more of a challenge on those.


New Hope Trail in Apex (at Jordan Lake), is a good option if you’re looking for something a little steeper. Combining the Red and Blue Trails puts this at a 8+ mile hike, with the hilliest portion definitely being the nearly 3 mile Blue trail. If you want to take a break along the way, the lake views will make that easy to want to do.

This really just scratches the surface of the hiking and other outdoor destinations across Raleigh and the greater Wake County area. While central NC may not have soaring mountain views, the northern and western part of the county, in particular, do have rolling hills. And with so many lakes nestled between their peaks, you’ll never run short of breath-taking vistas.

So, is Raleigh good for hiking? Yes, for all that, and more. If you’d like to find a home that gives you easy access to your favorite outdoor lifestyle, we can help. Just give us a call!


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