Crabtree Creek (Umstead State Park) - Old Reedy Creek Road to Ebenezer Church Road

Crabtree Creek (Umstead State Park), North Carolina, US


Old Reedy Creek Road to Ebenezer Church Road

Usual Difficulty I(II) (for normal flows)
Length 5.3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 5 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-0208726005 4.30 - 14.00 ft I(II) 00h30m 5.01 ft (running)

River Description

Take Harrison Ave exit on I-40, drive towards Cary, turn left on Weston Pkwy, then right on Old Reedy Creek Road.


Ebenezer Church Road bridge.


This run is difficult due to many downed trees. Do not run this creek at high water.

This is a peaceful run through Umstead State Park. There are several rapids near the Company Mill Trail. The Old Company Mill Dam creates a Class II rapid. This creek runs through the Crabtree Natural Area and Piedmont Beech Natural Area. The frequent downed trees make this run difficult and at times, frustrating. The solitude and natural features are an oasis in the middle of urban sprawl. Even though the majority of this run is flatwater, the current remains swift. This run can be continued through Raleigh to the confluence of the Neuse River.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2007-01-08 12:56:23


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 15 2013 (2078 days ago)
Mhleitch (155433)
Floated on 4/20/2013 at 4.5 ft at Ebeneezer Gauge in a Sea Eagle Fast Track. Late start but I
thought we could make it from Old Reedy Creek Rd to Lassiter Mill Falls before dark, I was
mistaken. The strainers and sweepers through Umstead are plentiful. A better float would be to put
in at the Ebeneezer Bridge and float to Lassiter Mill, that way you would avoid almost all
strainers. As darkness fell we realized we had set an unreasonable goal. As the street lamps of
Crabtree Valley Mall guided us through the darkness we contemplated pushing on. Right before the
bridge that goes under Glenwood we decided it would be far too dark and dangerous to continue. A
lone gray rock river right beckoned for me to step on it and end the miserable journey, so I did.
We grabbed our gear and walked up the bank to see the BP gas station and cars. I managed to
hitchhike to Lassiter Mill with some hippy chick who did hot yoga, many thanks again for the ride!
I drove the truck back to the small parking lot across from the BP and picked up my friend and the
gear. By the time I got back to the put in at Old Reedy Creek it was 9:45 and I was exhausted. A
Cary cop drove by, but we were gone before they turned around, probably just making sure no one was
still stuck out in the woods. Final thoughts, the otters, coyotes, and beavers were cool, but I
thought we would never make it and technically we never did actually make it. Save yourself the
trouble and take a trip to the Haw, or anywhere else for that matter. River 1 - Us 0
May 29 2009 (3524 days ago)
x (1)
Did this run on 05/07/09 at about 5.5'. We (myself and my crew of one) used an Intex Seahawk Sport
400 inflatable boat - The Regnus Zandt. The whole trip took about 5.5 hours with necessarily
lengthy breaks. We did four or five carries for trees and other blockages, and dragged it over half
a dozen more downed trees (while precariously balanced on sometimes floating logs). If the water
had been half a foot higher there would have been many more. There is neat rapid in the beginning
by the quarry, where the creek squeezes to the left of a big rock and then to the right of another.
After you enter the park (you will see a series of cliffs and overhangs on river left) there is
another small set of rapids around a sharp bend to the northeast which probably doesn't exist at
higher flows. There is a longer set of riffles and easy rapids before you have to get out at the
footbridge. There is a major blockage there. The Company Mill Rapid is fun, though we got into a
rock or two at the end of it. Everything beyond that is basically flat and the carry/drag situation
does not improve. I would run this every week if I could convince my crew (girlfriend) that we
should take out at Company Mill Dam and hike the boat out. This is a good run for proving you're a
real man, or highly eccentric, as it's more work than fun and no one really does it. The creek will
take you pretty far away from civilization, especially in the second half, while still being very
much surrounded by it. I might do this again one day, but by hiking out after the last rapid. -Zeke
(zeke73sg at aim dot com)
April 9 2009 (3574 days ago)
x (1)
News & Observer Taking on trees, trash and trepidation Josh Shaffer - Staff Writer Published: Wed,
Apr. 08, 2009 08:10AM I've paddled the Haw, the Neuse, the Deep, the Cape Fear and the Eno, but my
favorite stretch of water by far runs for five miles down sewage-scented, garbage-strewn,
logjam-choked Crabtree Creek. You won't find a lot of kayaks on the Crabtree. At one end, there's
Cary's wastewater treatment plant, and if the warning signs about PCBs in the fish don't scare you
off, the frothy yellow mixture floating on the surface might make you strap your boat back on the
Subaru. Worse, as the creek winds through Raleigh, it's common to find plastic bags and other trash
hanging from the tree branches -- leftovers from the latest flood. But for five miles, Crabtree
Creek takes a beautiful spin through William. B. Umstead State Park, a section so untouched and
hard-to-reach you'll see more otters than human beings. For about a year, I'd been wanting to try
this piece of the Crabtree. I'd jogged along the greenway from Raleigh Boulevard to Crabtree Valley
Mall -- in some of the leafier spots, you can get a idea of what the creek looked like before the
city lined it with parking lots. I'd heard about coyotes along the Umstead banks and more herons,
deer and otters than you could count. But I'd also heard about the trees -- fallen trunks thicker
than telephone poles that block the creek from bank to bank, stacking up to form 20-foot barriers.
I could imagine trying to drag my canoe up the steep Crabtree banks, slippery as pudding, or
getting wedged inside the branches of a toppled sycamore with rapids bubbling around my neck. It
didn't sound like a leisurely day, especially after finding this warning from a paddler online:
"The stream is simply choked in MANY places with downed trees and sweeper/strainers galore. You
want to see my black eye?" So it took a while to work up the gumption. My Crabtree ambition stayed
dormant until last Thursday, when the weather was miserable and wet, and I was feeling ornery
enough to fight a cantankerous creek. I borrowed a lightweight Dagger kayak from my sportswriter
friend Javi and started meditating on Edward Abbey's description of the Utah desert. This line
about the Canyonlands country was particularly inspiring: "... the least inhabited, least
developed, least improved, least civilized, most arid, most hostile, most lonesome, most grim,
bleak, barren, desolate and savage quarter of the state of Utah -- the best part by far.'' The
Crabtree run begins off Old Reedy Creek Road, where Cary treats its wastewater and thousands of
cars roar past on Interstate 40. There's a quarry on the right bank, so for the first half-mile,
you hear the drone of heavy machinery backing up. At five feet, water in the Crabtree is just high
enough to carry a kayak the full five miles without dragging bottom, and low enough to pass safely
under most of the massive oaks. I hit my first barrier after about five minutes on the water, and
it wasn't too dramatic. I just swung my leg over the tree trunk, sat on top and pulled the kayak
into the clear. In four hours, I repeated this process nine times. Just once, I had to park the
boat in foot-deep mud and drag it around a logjam as tall as a movie screen. It's exhausting on the
Crabtree. No lie. You get so wet that your fingertips wrinkle, and so muddy that you'll spend four
days fishing grit and sand out of your ears. But there's nothing like the Crabtree in Raleigh, and
not much like it in Wake County. My favorite section on the Neuse runs between Poole and Mial
Plantation roads but even there, you'll see plastic cups floating past and the backs of houses
showing on the banks. Through Umstead, the banks are cratered with otter holes. They swim right
past your boat, sleek and whiskered. You'll paddle so close to great blue herons that you can see
the pupils in their wide eyeballs. And at five feet, you'll hit two or three sets of Class II
rapids, one of them right under the bridge of the Company Mill dam. In four hours, the only people
I saw on Crabtree Creek were crossing that bridge, and they all stopped to look at the little boat
bouncing over the rocks, wondering where it had been, and where it was going. The park ends
abruptly at Ebenezer Church Road. As I pulled the boat to shore, I was greeted by large real estate
signs announcing the construction of new homes starting at $800,000. Just then, I noticed the
sewage smell again.
July 17 2007 (4206 days ago)
Brian McPhersonDetails
Paddled this section (at 37cfs/3.6ft) and then continued to take out at US 70 bridge. The run
through Umstead is beautiful, and gives you access to parts of the park few people see. The
Piedmont Beech Natural Area has been closed to foot traffic for a while, but the creek will take
you right past some amazing giants. Wildlife is abundant as well. Saw dozens of deer, otters, and
one coyote. The downed trees were numerous however. Singles could be dragged over or snuck under,
but there were many full on logjams that had to be portaged around. Steep banks make this almost
impossible in some sections, leaving the alternative of roping your boat up and over from the
opposite side of the jam. High flows make this a dicey proposition at best. At 37 cfs/3.6 ft the
run can be boney in some places, but many of the trees can be paddled under. This 5.3 mile section
took almost 6 hours, including lunch. A lot of work, but worth the very secluded paddle in the
middle of the RDU area. From Ebeneezer Church bridge to Duraleigh Rd., the scenery is almost as
nice but with less wildlife. From Duraleigh Rd. to Crabtree Valley Mall the amount of trash
increases. Take out at Ebeneezer. I don't know if taking out at Duraleigh is possible.
November 28 2006 (4437 days ago)
Jim WeiDetails
Possible playhole/wave where the hiking trail crosses the creek, fluffy looking at 400cfs.