Summer Adventures: Top Parks Around Raleigh

Ready to embrace the warmer weather? We know we are and there are so many places around the Triangle to get outside! Combine relaxing views with being active by heading to one of our favorite spots. Whether it’s a kayaking adventure or finding that hidden fishing spot, we’ve got you covered with a Summer Guide to Raleigh’s best parks.

Lake Crabtree County Park
Wake County’s first established county park, Lake Crabtree, is home to tons of recreational opportunities. With a little bit of everything, it’s become one of the most talked about parks in the Raleigh-Durham area. Home to a six mile trail loop around the lake, with an additional nine miles of hiking/cycling trails, open play areas, and fishing spots, it’s an outdoorsman’s dream. Not to mention the 520 acre lake is made for days on the water – Sailboats, canoes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards, and more launch off its year round boat dock. Less than 10 miles from downtown Apex, it’s an easy spot to hang an eno, sit back, and enjoy the afternoon breeze.

Rental dates: Fri.-Sun., May 6-Sept. 24
Fees: $5-10 per hour; Cash only (a $20 cash deposit will be required)
Need to know: Must be at least 18 years of age to rent a boat; rentals stop at 5pm

William B. Umstead State Park
As N.C.'s most visited state park, William B. Umstead State Park, drew 1.84 million visitors in 2016. If you’ve visited, you’d understand why. As a popular getaway for hikers, trail runners, cyclists, and even horseback riders, it’s easily accessible off Highway 70. The park's biggest lake, Big Lake, has a boathouse that rents out canoes and rowboats, allowing you to explore the 55-acre body of water (no private boats allowed). Fishing is allowed at Big Lake, where you'll find bass, bluegill and crappie. But, don’t miss the 13 miles of trails that take you through some of the most scenic areas of the more than 5,000-acre park.

Rental dates: Sat. and Sun., May 6-Sept. 30
Fees: $5 per hour; Cash or check only
Need to know: Must be 16 years of age to rent a boat; Rentals stop at 3:30pm; Private boats not allowed

Lake Wheeler Park
Located in south Raleigh, Lake Wheeler is a short drive for an afternoon getaway. From jon boats and rowboats to kayaks and pedal boats, this 650 acre lake offers boat rentals seven days a week during warm weather months. A boat launch also allows trailered and non-trailered boats to be launched with a day pass of $6 per day.  Whether you are looking for a spot to relax on the water, a stress-relieving run, or a place to hang your eno – Lake Wheeler could be the park for you.

Rental dates: Jon boat rentals begin April 1; other boats are available May 1-Sept. 30
Fees: $4-6 per hour
Need to know: Must be 16 years of age to rent a boat; Rentals stop at 6pm

Lake Johnson Park
Close to North Carolina State University (Go Pack!), Lake Johnson Park is a popular spot for students and professionals to get outside. With a paved, three-mile greenway loop, plus two miles of unpaved trails, it is a relaxing and scenic path along the lake. The lake spans more than 150 acres and offers a wide variety of rentals, from jon boats and canoes to sunfish sails and stand-up paddleboards. A boat launch is also available to use for a $6 per day fee for non trailered, electric motorized boats. It’s one of our favorite loops, with a dam that’s a great place to hang out with your dog and let them enjoy the water.

Rental dates: Jon boat rentals begin April 1; other boats are May 1-Sept. 30
Fees: $4-10 per hour (SUP is $10 per hour, must be 18 years of age or older)
Need to know: Must be 16 years or age or older to rent a boat; Fishing is allowed from a boardwalk or boat (with current N.C. fishing license), and with an ID you can borrow a rod and reel from the park boathouse

Harris Lake County Park
Secluded in the southeast corner of the county, Harris Lake County Park is a 680-acre park on a peninsula of Harris Lake. The park has all types of amenities, including a fishing pier (plus a fishing pond that gets stocked with channel catfish once per month), nearly eight miles of mountain bike trails, lots of picnic opportunities, five miles of dedicated jogging trails, and a popular 18-hole disc golf course. There are no boat rentals available in the park, but boat docks provide easy access to take your own onto the water. Fill your Summer with days spent at Harris Lake tubing with family, playing disc golf with friends, or biking through the winding trails.

Fred G. Bond Metro Park and Boathouse
At 310 acres, Bond Park is one of the largest in the area with picnic shelters, athletic fields, hiking trails, playgrounds, a 300 seat amphitheater, and a challenge course. A two mile loop surrounds the lake, along with a shorter trail for off leash dogs. The boathouse rents out pedal boats, sunfish sailboats, kayaks, and more, along with a boat ramp. Don’t forget to bring a picnic, as their deck is full of tables and umbrellas overlooking the lake.

Rental dates: Sat. and Sun., April-May; Seven days per week June-Aug.; Sat. and Sun., Sept.-Oct.
Fees: $6-11 per hour.
Need to know: Must be 18 years of age or older to rent a boat; Sailing experience required to rent a sunfish sailboat

With more options than you have time for, it’s time to get outside this Summer and explore the awesome parks we have around us! In less than 20 minutes you can be on the lake, hitting the trails, or relaxing by the water. So, what are you waiting for? Start exploring.
Emily Harmon
Emily Harmon

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