Shelley Lake Trail In North Carolina

Here is everything you need to know about the Shelley Lake Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: North Carolina
  • Length: 2.5 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

The Shelley Lake Trail, located in Raleigh, North Carolina, holds a significant historical background that dates back several decades. The trail is situated around Shelley Lake, a man-made lake created in the 1970s as part of a flood control project by the Army Corps of Engineers. The construction of the lake aimed to mitigate the risk of flooding in the Crabtree Creek watershed, which had been prone to severe flooding in the past.

The development of the Shelley Lake Trail began in the early 1980s, as the City of Raleigh recognized the potential for recreational use around the lake. The trail was designed to provide a scenic and accessible pathway for walkers, joggers, and cyclists to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. It was officially opened to the public in 1983, offering a 2.8-mile loop around the lake.

Over the years, the Shelley Lake Trail has become a beloved destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Its historical significance lies not only in its creation but also in the preservation of the surrounding environment. The trail showcases the successful collaboration between the Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Raleigh in implementing a flood control project that also enhances the recreational opportunities for the community. Today, the Shelley Lake Trail remains a cherished landmark, providing a peaceful retreat and a glimpse into the history of the area’s flood control efforts.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Shelley Lake Park Entrance: This is the main access point to the Shelley Lake Trail. It is located at 1400 W Millbrook Road, Raleigh, NC 27612.

2. North Hills Park: Located at 100 Chowan Circle, Raleigh, NC 27609, this park provides an access point to the Shelley Lake Trail from the north side.

3. Lassiter Mill Park: Situated at 2611 Lassiter Mill Road, Raleigh, NC 27609, this park offers an access point to the Shelley Lake Trail from the south side.

4. Millbrook Exchange Park: Located at 1905 Spring Forest Road, Raleigh, NC 27615, this park provides an access point to the Shelley Lake Trail from the east side.

5. Sertoma Arts Center: Situated at 1400 W Millbrook Road, Raleigh, NC 27612, this arts center offers an access point to the Shelley Lake Trail from the west side.

6. Shelley Lake Boathouse: Located within Shelley Lake Park, this boathouse provides an access point to the Shelley Lake Trail for those interested in renting kayaks or canoes.

7. Greenway Parking Lot: This parking lot is located at 1400 W Millbrook Road, Raleigh, NC 27612, and serves as an access point to the Shelley Lake Trail for those arriving by car.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Shelley Lake Trail. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. Shelley Lake Park & Ride – A convenient parking lot for commuters using public transportation.
2. Shelley Lake Trailhead – The starting point of the scenic Shelley Lake Trail.
3. Shelley Lake Boat Rentals – Rent a boat and explore Shelley Lake.
4. Shelley Lake Bike Rentals – Rent a bike and enjoy a ride around Shelley Lake Trail.
5. Shelley Lake Pedal Boat Rentals – Rent a pedal boat and have fun on the water at Shelley Lake.
6. Shelley Lake Canoe & Kayak Rentals – Rent a canoe or kayak and paddle along Shelley Lake.
7. Shelley Lake Bus Stop – A bus stop near Shelley Lake Trail for easy access to public transportation.
8. Shelley Lake Taxi Service – Taxi service available for transportation needs around Shelley Lake Trail.
9. Shelley Lake Car Rental – Rent a car for convenient transportation around Shelley Lake Trail.
10. Shelley Lake Electric Scooter Rentals – Rent an electric scooter for a fun and eco-friendly way to explore Shelley Lake Trail.


The amenities available at the Shelley Lake Trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are public restrooms available near the main entrance of the trail.

2. Parking: There is ample parking available at multiple parking lots surrounding the trail. These parking lots are free to use.

3. Camping Sites: There are no camping sites available at the Shelley Lake Trail. It is primarily a day-use trail.

4. Picnic Areas: There are several picnic areas with tables and benches scattered throughout the trail. These areas provide a great spot for picnicking and enjoying the surroundings.

5. Playground: There is a playground area near the main entrance of the trail, making it a family-friendly destination.

6. Fishing: Shelley Lake offers fishing opportunities, and there are designated fishing areas along the trail.

7. Wildlife Viewing: The trail provides excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing, with various bird species and other animals inhabiting the area.

8. Fitness Stations: There are fitness stations along the trail, equipped with exercise equipment for visitors to use.

9. Dog-Friendly: The Shelley Lake Trail is dog-friendly, allowing leashed dogs to accompany their owners on the trail.

10. Water Activities: Visitors can engage in water activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding on Shelley Lake.

11. Nature Center: The Sertoma Arts Center, located near the trail, offers various art classes and exhibits for visitors to enjoy.

Please note that amenities may be subject to change, so it is always a good idea to check for any updates or specific regulations before visiting.

Nearby Services

1. Shelley Lake Lodge – A cozy lodging option near the trail, offering comfortable rooms and scenic views.
2. Lakeside Cafe – A food service located by Shelley Lake, serving delicious meals and snacks.
3. Shelley Lake Medical Center – An emergency service facility providing medical assistance near the trail.
4. Shelley Lake Campground – A camping site near the trail, offering a serene outdoor experience.
5. Trailside Diner – A casual eatery conveniently located along the Shelley Lake Trail, serving a variety of dishes.
6. Shelley Lake Pharmacy – A nearby pharmacy providing essential medications and healthcare products.
7. Shelley Lake Inn – A charming inn offering accommodation options for visitors exploring the trail.
8. Shelley Lake Fire Station – An emergency service station ensuring safety and prompt response to any fire-related incidents.
9. Shelley Lake Picnic Area – A designated area along the trail for picnicking and enjoying outdoor meals.
10. Shelley Lake Police Station – A law enforcement facility ensuring security and safety along the trail.

Shelley Lake Trail Difficulty Notes

The Shelley Lake Trail offers a moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for a wide range of hikers and walkers. The trail spans approximately 2.8 miles and features a mix of paved and unpaved sections, with some gentle inclines and declines along the way. While there are a few challenging spots, such as a short steep hill, overall, the trail is well-maintained and easily navigable. With its beautiful lake views, shaded areas, and occasional wildlife sightings, the Shelley Lake Trail provides an enjoyable and manageable outdoor experience for both beginners and more experienced hikers.

Features And Attractions

The Shelley Lake Trail is a popular trail located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Along the trail, you can find several scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable points of interest along the Shelley Lake Trail:

1. Shelley Lake: The trail surrounds Shelley Lake, a beautiful 53-acre lake that offers stunning views and opportunities for fishing, boating, and birdwatching.

2. Sertoma Arts Center: Located near the trail, the Sertoma Arts Center is a historic building that offers various art classes, exhibits, and workshops.

3. Shelley Lake Park: This park is adjacent to the trail and offers picnic areas, playgrounds, and open spaces for recreational activities.

4. Historic Mill Dam: Along the trail, you can find the remnants of the historic Mill Dam, which was once used to power a gristmill in the 1800s.

5. Wildlife Observation Deck: There is a wildlife observation deck along the trail that provides a great vantage point for spotting various bird species and other wildlife.

6. Raleigh Rose Garden: Located near the trail, the Raleigh Rose Garden is a beautiful spot with over 60 varieties of roses, making it a perfect place for a peaceful stroll.

7. Historic Oak Grove Cemetery: Situated near the trail, the Oak Grove Cemetery is a historic burial ground dating back to the mid-1800s. It is the final resting place for many notable individuals from Raleigh’s past.

8. Blue Jay Point County Park: This park is adjacent to the Shelley Lake Trail and offers additional recreational opportunities, including hiking trails, a nature center, and educational programs.

9. Natural Landscapes: The trail passes through various natural landscapes, including wooded areas, wetlands, and open fields, providing a diverse and scenic experience.

10. Wildlife: Along the trail, you may encounter various wildlife species, including birds, turtles, deer, and more.

These are just a few of the scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and other points of interest that you can find along the Shelley Lake Trail. Exploring the trail will offer a mix of natural beauty, history, and recreational opportunities.

Usage Guidelines

1. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Clean up after your pets and dispose of waste in designated bins.
3. Bicycles and rollerblades are allowed on the trail, but must yield to pedestrians.
4. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail.
5. Fishing is permitted in designated areas only.
6. Swimming or wading in the lake is not allowed.
7. No hunting or trapping is allowed on the trail or surrounding areas.
8. Camping or overnight stays are not permitted.
9. Fires and open flames are prohibited.
10. Littering is strictly prohibited; please use designated trash bins.
11. Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed animals.
12. The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may be closed during maintenance or inclement weather.
13. Use caution during wet or icy conditions, as the trail may become slippery.
14. Alcohol and illegal substances are not allowed on the trail.
15. Please stay on designated trails and do not trespass onto private property.
16. Respect other trail users and maintain a safe and courteous environment.
17. Follow any additional rules or guidelines posted at trail entrances or along the trail.

Seasonal Information

The Shelley Lake Trail, located in Raleigh, North Carolina, offers a picturesque and serene escape for outdoor enthusiasts. The best times of the year to visit the trail largely depend on personal preferences and the desired experience. However, many visitors find that spring and fall are the most enjoyable seasons to explore the trail. In spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant colors as flowers bloom and trees regain their lush foliage. The weather is usually mild, making it perfect for hiking, jogging, or cycling. Fall, on the other hand, offers breathtaking views as the leaves change into a stunning array of red, orange, and gold. The crisp air and cooler temperatures make it an ideal time for a leisurely stroll or a peaceful picnic by the lake.

It is important to note that the Shelley Lake Trail does not have any seasonal closures. It is open year-round, allowing visitors to enjoy its beauty and tranquility regardless of the season. However, it is worth mentioning that during the summer months, the trail can get quite crowded, especially on weekends. If you prefer a quieter experience, it may be best to visit during weekdays or early mornings. Additionally, it is advisable to check the weather forecast before heading out, as heavy rain or storms can make the trail muddy and less enjoyable to navigate.

Overall, the Shelley Lake Trail offers a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you visit in the vibrant spring, the colorful fall, or any other time of the year, you are sure to be captivated by the natural beauty and tranquility that this trail has to offer. So, grab your walking shoes, pack a picnic, and immerse yourself in the serenity of the Shelley Lake Trail.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to the trail entrance for easy access.
2. Paved Pathways: The trail features smooth, paved surfaces suitable for wheelchair users.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Restroom facilities equipped with accessible features such as grab bars and wider doorways.
4. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic spots with accessible tables and seating options.
5. Wheelchair Accessible Fishing Pier: A fishing pier designed to accommodate wheelchair users.
6. Accessible Playground: A playground area with equipment accessible to children with disabilities.
7. Accessible Water Fountains: Water fountains with accessible heights and features.
8. Braille Signage: Trail signs featuring Braille text for visually impaired individuals.
9. Accessible Trailhead: An accessible entrance to the trail with ramps or level pathways.
10. Accessible Seating Areas: Benches and seating areas along the trail designed for wheelchair users.

Safety Information

1. Stay on the designated trail: Stick to the marked path to avoid getting lost or wandering into unsafe areas.
2. Be aware of wildlife: Keep an eye out for animals and give them space to avoid any potential encounters or conflicts.
3. Use insect repellent: Protect yourself from mosquitoes and ticks by applying insect repellent before starting your hike.
4. Stay hydrated: Carry enough water to stay hydrated throughout your walk or run on the trail.
5. Wear appropriate footwear: Choose sturdy and comfortable shoes to prevent slips, trips, or injuries on uneven terrain.
6. Use sunscreen: Apply sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, especially during sunny days.
7. Be cautious of cyclists: Share the trail with cyclists and be aware of their presence to avoid accidents.
8. Watch out for roots and rocks: Pay attention to the trail surface to avoid tripping or twisting an ankle.
9. Carry a cell phone: Have a fully charged cell phone with you in case of emergencies or to report any safety concerns.
10. Walk or run with a buddy: It’s always safer to have a companion when using the trail, especially during early morning or late evening hours.
11. Follow trail rules and regulations: Respect any posted signs or guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
12. Be prepared for weather changes: Check the forecast and dress accordingly, carrying extra layers or rain gear if necessary.
13. Stay visible: If walking or running during low-light conditions, wear reflective clothing or use a headlamp to increase visibility.
14. Report any suspicious activity: If you notice any suspicious behavior or feel unsafe, report it to the appropriate authorities.
15. Be mindful of your surroundings: Stay alert and aware of other trail users, potential hazards, or changing conditions.

Conservation Notes

The Shelley Lake Trail is a significant conservation area that plays a crucial role in preserving the natural environment and biodiversity of the region. As a designated conservation area, the trail is actively managed and protected to ensure the long-term sustainability of its ecosystems. The conservation status of the Shelley Lake Trail is classified as a protected area, which means that it is legally safeguarded against any activities that may harm or degrade its natural resources.

One of the primary objectives of the conservation status is to maintain and enhance the ecological integrity of the Shelley Lake Trail. This involves the protection and restoration of native plant and animal species, as well as the preservation of their habitats. Efforts are made to prevent the introduction of invasive species that can disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Additionally, the conservation status ensures that the trail’s natural features, such as wetlands, forests, and water bodies, are conserved and managed sustainably.

Conservation measures also focus on promoting environmental education and public awareness about the importance of the Shelley Lake Trail’s conservation status. This includes providing information about the trail’s unique ecological features, organizing guided nature walks, and encouraging responsible visitor behavior. By raising awareness and fostering a sense of stewardship among trail users, the conservation status aims to ensure the long-term protection and enjoyment of this valuable natural resource.

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