One place I liked to visit near our house was Yates Mill Pond County Park. It was a small place but you could get in 3 or 4 miles of hiking pretty quickly. I would take the High Ridge Trail outbound to the Creekside Trail a 1mile lollipop route and come back in on the Mill Pond Trail.
The trail started at the parking lot and dropped down under the dam.
Yates Mill is the last operating mill in Wake County NC. It started operation under Samuel Pearson in 1750. It’s known as Yates Mill because the Mill was in the hands of the Yates family longer then any other owners from 1863-1947. Today it is owned by North Carolina State University.
Yates Mill was used to grind corn and wheat, a sawmill was added and eventually it was used to card wool. The Mill is located on Steep Hill Creek.
By the 1980’s the mill was in ruins and was ready to collapse. A partnership between the University, the county and the non-profit Yates Mill Associates began restoration. In 1996 Hurricane Fran flooded Steep Hill Creek and the dam collapsed and the mill was heavily damaged. By 2006 the park was done and opened to the public. Mill tours are conducted from March to November will milling demonstrations and the final product can be purchased. It is a prime source of income for the associations efforts in upkeeping to mill.
NCSU has a forestry class and at the park students learn forest and park management. They learn trail building and maintenance and forest and wildlife and management. It is a beautiful park.
The High Ridge Trail heads up into the woods slightly past the dam. It then descends the ridge about 8 tenths of a mile into the hike to the the Wetlands Boardwalk. Across the boardwalk the Creekside Trail begins. The Wetland Boardwalk crossed the tip of the lake and the wetlands. The area is a favorite spot to catch sight of beavers. Here one can catch the one mile Creekside Trail through the wetlands along Steep Hill Creek. Then coming back in I like to take the Millpond Trail to see some great views of the pond.
I spent many late afternoons hiking at Yates Millpond.