The Inspiration Trail appears on the Umstead park map as a 0.3-mile loop attached, like a growth, to the Company Mill Trail spur. I've ignored this tiny loop during previous visits to the park, because adding 0.3 miles to a Company Mill trail run seemed unnecessary, especially when you consider that the Inspiration Trail may actually cause you to get a little lost.
But, a hike on 0.3-mile trail is perfectly reasonable for a lunch-break adventure.
Being that it's a loop trail, you can start out to the left or the right. (I went left)
As with most every other trail in Umstead, this one affords views of a creek.
You may also take a seat and admire the view of this hillside. It's pretty. And, the incessant beeping from busy dump trucks at the neighboring rock quarry really adds something special to the atmosphere.
A directional sign of some sort would be good here, right on that center tree, perhaps. If you go to the left, you'll follow some sort of unofficial spur that leads to other unofficial spurs. Going to the right seems to be the official route of the Inspiration Trail.
I unwittingly chose to go left, thinking the right-turn option was just a short sojourn to another bench. The leftward spur isn't terribly lengthy. So, it's definitely worth going that way unless you're incredibly pressed for time.
The trees seem almost foreboding without leaves on this unofficial spur.
The undocumented Inspiration Trail Spur offers up another unofficial spur leading down a somewhat steep hill toward the creek.
How could you resist?
Due to overbearing vegetation, there's not much else for you to do as you get closer to that creek. If you were a nineties-era couple of lovers with a knife and a penchant for tree carving, however...
Scramble back up that hill and continue along the mystery spur. This is what you just passed over after that hilly interlude.
Death is everywhere.
Oh look! It's another descent on another spur, a spur's spur.
And, we're next to the creek again, closer this time. I surprised a black snake sunning itself beside the water here. So, there are snakes. Be advised.
Go ahead and crawl back up that hill to the spur trail.
This funky tree pretty much marks the end of the unofficial part of the Inspiration Trail. If you didn't know you were on the unofficial Inspiration spur, you'd feel a little lost right about now. Luckily, you're reading this blog post.
once you've retraced your steps along the Inspiration Trail spur and found your way back to the loop intersection, you'll see some pretty tame, pine-straw laden trail. It looks much like this. Note the reassuring blue-green trail marker.
And, before you know it, you're back at the start of the Inspiration Trail, at which point you can hike further into the park or back towards the parking lot. Watch out for those Company Mill rocks.