90-Second Escape: Paddling Umstead’s Big Lake

Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast, especially come summer. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy.
To help ease this trying transition from out-in-the-Sun-day to Mon-I-wish-I-were-back-in-the-sun-day, we’re running a new feature every Monday, at least during the summer, called 90-Second Escape. Essentially, it’s a 90-second mini-movie of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s out in the sun. Because there’s a good chance you might want to make such an escape yourself, we’ll include a resource list with each escape showing where and how to make it happen.

Today’s 90-Second Escape: Paddling Umstead State Park’s Big Lake.

As escapes go, this is about the cheapest 60 minutes you’ll find: At Umstead State Park’ Big Lake, $5 buys you an hour’s escape on the park’s somewhat whimsically named Big Lake. Whimsical because, at 55 acres, Big Lake is hardly that (nearby Lake Crabtree, for instance, is 520 acres, while Falls Lake  is 12,410 acres and Jordan Lake is 13,900 acres). But it does offer surprisingly big escape, especially considering it’s in one of North Carolina’s most popular state parks and borders busy Raleigh Durham International Airport.

The boat house is only open weekends and only from the first weekend of April through the second weekend of October. Rental hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

And if you can’t make it to Umstead, chances are you can get a similar deal on an escape at at state park near you: Eight parks in the North Carolina system rent boats: Cliffs of the Neuse, Dismal Swamp, Hammocks Beach, Hanging Rock, Jones Lake, Lake James, Lake Norman and Morrow Mountain, while Hammocks Beach rents through an outside organization.

In the meantime, enjoy this week’s 90-Second Escape.

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