Shelley Lake (How To Enjoy One Of Raleigh’s Best Parks!)

Last Updated on June 9, 2021

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If you plan to visit Western NC, please check beforehand to see if the area is safe following the recent flooding. Officials have closed some sections of Pisgah National Forest (including Forest Heritage Scenic Byway and Blue Ridge Parkway stops) to keep visitors out of danger. Please respect signage and local guidance.

Shelley Lake Park sits off of West Millbrook Rd in Raleigh and makes it easy to forget that you’re in North Carolina‘s capital city. Just 7 miles north of downtown Raleigh and I-440, Shelley Lake Park’s trail is perfect for walking, biking, and running and it also offers fantastic views.

The 53-acre lake and its surrounding park provide a beautiful backdrop for kids and adults both to enjoy some natural beauty while still in our capital city. Inside our guide to Shelley Lake Park, we’ll share the best things to do, parking info, amenities, and some of our favorite photos from this awesome Raleigh attraction!

This post is part of our series covering things to do in Raleigh, especially with kids! If you are looking for more parks in Raleigh, we recommend reading about the massive Umstead State Park, the gorgeous Yates Mill, and spacious Dorothea Dix Park!

Shelley Lake Park

Quick Guide

Shelley Lake Raleigh NC
  • Shelley Lake Address: 1400 W Millbrook Road, Raleigh, NC 27612
  • Free to the public and open from dusk to dawn
  • Please remember to always leave no trace–pick up your trash and leave Raleigh beautiful! 

Parking for Shelley Lake

There are two parking lots for Shelley Lake; the largest lot provides access to a playground, basketball courts, and picnic spots.

The lower parking lot is right down the road where the path juts out along the lake for clear views. It leads to a smaller trail where you can take a spur off to the right under the bridge for some more rustic exploring. 

3 Ways to Enjoy Shelley Lake Park

The Trail

The Shelley Lake Park Trail is an amazing loop!

The 2-mile paved trail circumvents a small pond filled with geese, turtles, and fish. This trail is relatively stroller-friendly but keep in mind that there are some steep hills from both parking lots that might present a challenge for strollers or scooters. 

The Shelley Lake trail is also very popular with runners in Raleigh. It is paved, wide, and a standard 2-mile loop, which makes for a quick and easy run.

From here, you can connect to the 100-mile Capital Area Greenway Trail System, allowing for an extended run or ride. Other connecting trails include Milne Creek Trail and Ironwood Trail. 

Note that a lot of the Shelley Lake Trail is shaded, but there are some portions out in the sun. Pack some sunscreen and some water because it can get quite hot out there!

The Boathouse and Pier

Shelley Lake Trail Boardwalk Raleigh NC

While on the trail, keep an eye out for a boathouse and pier, restrooms, and a long wooden bridge perfect for wildlife watching. During the summer months, the boathouse is open for canoes and paddle-boat renting. 

Sertoma Arts Center

Also located in the main parking lot is the Sertoma Arts Center. Operated by the City of Raleigh’s Parks and Recreation, Sertoma Arts Center has classes for youth and adults in drawing and waiting, fiber arts, glass, photography, and pottery.

If you work up an appetite, then we recommend heading to Sola for some coffee and mini donuts! Want more? These Raleigh restaurant recommendations should help!

Ready to Visit Shelley Lake Park Now?

Shelley Lake Trail in Raleigh NC

While we love the State and National Parks in North Carolina, we’re always looking for new ways to wear out our active child. Shelley Lake Park is a short drive from our house and offers perfect hiking opportunities for our toddler and us, too!

Shelley Lake is one of our favorite outdoor spots in Raleigh (and throughout the entire Triangle) to walk around and watch for turtles! Even in the heat of summer, we’ve found it an enjoyable walk so long as we had plenty of water and snacks.

We hope you decide to #optoutside and enjoy Shelley Lake Park, as we have!

In case you know about this park, too, we’d love to hear your thoughts on it! Let us know in the comments section or in our Facebook Group. If you’re about to visit for the first time, please feel free to share your experiences afterward!

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