While we love the Raleigh area’s great restaurants, fun bars, and shopping venues, sometimes we just need a day to escape the bustle and reconnect with nature. After all, not only is walking or hiking outdoors great exercise, but recent studies show that spending time in green spaces reduces our cortisol (stress) levels significantly.
Fortunately, the Raleigh area offers some great hiking options that are convenient to the city, too, so it’s easy to escape for a Saturday without spending a long time in the car. Below you’ll find a list of nearby hiking spots well-suited for those at all levels—from families just looking for an ideal picnic spot to experienced hikers looking for a place to camp for the weekend.
William B. Umstead State Park
Distance from Cleveland Crossing: 25 miles (Reedy Creek Entrance)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Highlights: This expansive state park offers twenty miles of hiking trails, so you’re sure to find something your style. Come for a relaxing stroll along the half-mile Inspiration Trail loop, or plan a day trip to tackle the seven-mile Sycamore Trail. The park also offers trails for biking and horseback riding, plus opportunities for camping, canoeing, and fishing.
Though it’s a bit farther away than the other parks on this list, it’s a pretty straight shot from our location: just hop on I-40 until you get to exit 287, where you’ll find the park’s Reedy Creek Entrance.
Learn more about William B. Umstead State Park.
Historic Yates Mill County Park
Distance from Cleveland Crossing: 18 miles
Difficulty: Easy to strenuous
Highlights: Before hitting the three miles of trails, be sure to check out the beautifully restored mill and educational center, which offers seasonal demonstrations and a wealth of historical information. Then explore the scenic hardwood forests and wetlands via boardwalks, foot bridges, stone steps and gravel pathways.
Learn more about Yates Mill County Park.
Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve
Distance from Cleveland Crossing: 16 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Highlights: This 1.6-mile loop traces a scenic creek and is at a higher elevation than many other local parks, making it easier to spot rare wildflowers, wetland species, and a variety of birds. If you’d like to get a view from the top of the bluff, you can take a set of steep manmade stairs called the Stairway to Heaven.
Learn more about Swift Creek Bluffs.
Neuse River Greenway Trail
Distance from Cleveland Crossing: 11 miles (to the Auburn Knightdale Road parking area)
Difficulty: Easy, paved
Highlights: This 27-mile trail is connected to several other Greenway system trails, and takes you along riverbanks, beside scenic farms, to local recreation parks, over wetland boardwalks and more. You can find the most convenient parking lot to you and hop on at any point of the line. The paved surface makes this trail ideal for bicycles, strollers, jogging, dog-walking, or just enjoying the river views.
Learn more about the Neuse River Trail.
Local walking trails
Want to get a dose of nature during a lunch break? You’ll find several nearby parks with short walking trails, perfect for a quick jaunt. Walking-friendly parks close to Cleveland Crossing include Lake Benson Park (8 miles away), White Deer Park Nature Center (8 miles) and several others.
Cleveland Crossing also offers a network of walking trails on site, perfect for an early-morning or after-work stroll.
We hope this list is helpful for our residents and residents-to-be. Now get out there and soak in some sunshine!