Explore the most popular river trails in North Carolina with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

This is one of my favorite spots!

I was expecting the trail to be much steeper than it was. A moderate trail is very accurate.

Great! Swing at the end btw.

With some trekking poles this trail is not difficult at all. I highly recommend this iconic hike!

1 day ago

Local beginner hiker and I just found this trail. I am in love. It is definitely muddy after the rain and I would not call it stroller or wheelchair friendly. Especially the northern section along the river. There is definitely erosion after the recent storms. Not that I minded any of that and can’t wait to do the entire trail. I like that I can hop on in several different areas when I am out solo and for just a few hours. Using my poles I got quite the workout even on the flat areas. Enjoy!!

2 days ago

Any hike by water and ending with a waterfall and swim gets a good review from me! Beautiful hike along a wild river (after a mile, or so) . Saw no one else the whole time- peaceful! No really steep areas except the little descent to the fall from the trail. Slow incline the last mile back up, but not bad!

Short trail with big payoff. That little Bradley falls is absolutely amazing.

Great, easy trail for the whole family! Our 4 year old hiker didn’t complain about the walk at all. Lots of families with dogs, pretty heavily trafficked but didn’t feel crowded at all. Falls are really pretty! We’ll definitely go back when it’s warm outside.

Great hike. Will definitely do again when the water is lower.

We walked several of the loop trails. We had the place totally to ourselves except for various birds to include a wild turkey.

lots of wildlife, tons of turtles all sunbathing on logs, blue herons walking on the water edge, and toads hopping around in the forest.

Nice hike, the views weren’t amazing but parts near the lake and river were nice. Fun wildlife lots of spring peepers, snakes, and ground skinks

4 days ago

Wife and I hiked this past weekend. Very enjoyable hike, once you submit to the notion your feet are going to get wet as you cross the streams. It is March so the creek levels are high. The addition of seeing the history of the 1916 flood was an added element to the hike. I would rate the trail moderate to strenuous, as of right now it needs some maintenance due to some downed trees. Two questions I have for hikers who are very familiar with the trail. I would like to know where the "perfect chimney," is located and the Caudill family cemetery.

4 days ago

Did this as a 2 night backpacking trip. Well established trail but NOT marked. Tough, rocky terrain that can be slippery after rain but elevation gain isn’t bad. We had intended to continue on to Greasy Cove Trail and loop around Shining Creek Path back to the trailhead but we could not find the trail after 2 hours so we made an out and back of Big East Fork.

All in all a good first time trip for this novice backpacker. Campsites were nice and flat with easy access to the creek for water.

Had a fantastic time here. We hiked all the way to the end of the trail seeing all 3 waterfalls. It was Thursday so very few people were on the trail. Had lunch at the top if rainbow falls. It was an amazing view.

Great place to hike in and camp the night. My Daughter and I went there , had a great time. We also took MST to Devils Garden Overlook but be warned that at time we hiked it All Trail Classification is wrong. Devil Garden Overlook is an advance trail not moderate.

Loads of fun with three young kids. Wading, running, skipping rocks, hiking, lots of inspiration for imaginative play... oh and hiking! Stream was chilly but the kids left soaked and muddy. Would love to come back and picnic when it’s hot.

Fun hike with a river and a lake

6 days ago

Beautiful crisp morning with a little snow on the ground still. Falls were gorgeous.

MAKE SURE YOUR DIRECTIONS ARE CLEAR! We followed the GPS directions (from the All Trails app) and never found the trailhead or anything. We really wanted to hike it but we gave up after driving around lost for about 30 mins. We would like to try again sometime though.

Super Trail -
Easy on the body, might even recommend it for almost anyone!

The area is quiet, and the cover is thick for the most part, and we stayed cool and comfortable!

You'll love it

Nice trail. Not too strenuous. Tracked it at 6 miles total. There were plenty of children doing this trail with no problem. There are places where I would not have a dog with no leash. The views at the end are well worth the trip.

Excellent afternoon on the Trails - If you have never been here, and live within an hour of the park you are cheating yourself.
The trails is really an easy trail, and the hills are small and the terrain is forgiving...

For the most part the trail is well under a canopy of trees, and the breeze was consistent.
We lived in the Raleigh area years ago, and on a weekend getaway we decided to hit this park...
And so glad we decided to change plans and hit Umstead!

You will love all 11 miles - (We also took on Sal's Branch/Loop)
There is a trail here for everyone

I was speechless!
For years I thought this was a "bike only" trail!
Turns out to be one of the very best hiking trails in the area! We started out just about 1pm, and the weather was perfect!
The terrain isn't too demanding. If you are a comfortable 10mile hiker - this trail is perfect...

We wrapped up the trail(s) at just under 10 miles, and it felt good.

The Lake Loop is nice, but the Laurel Loop is so much more!

Our first hike on this trail. The waterfall is beautiful and worth the hike.

A good hike with the kids. Pretty nice double track rolling hills easy hike.

Trail is longer than 2.6 more like 1.9 one way and s should be rated hard because it is straight down and then up

7 days ago

Really nice! Easy parking and quick to get on the trail. I did this hike alone and felt very safe. It’s moderately trafficked but not too busy. At each of the overlooks I had the area to myself. So pretty and not too challenging.

Always enjoyable. This is turning into a default area for us.

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