Crabtree Creek (Neuse River)

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Crabtree Creek east of Lassiter Mill Rd.

Crabtree Creek is a major body of water in Wake County, North Carolina. The creek is a tributary of the Neuse River. It begins in the town of Cary and flows through Morrisville, William B. Umstead State Park, and the northern sections of Raleigh (roughly along I-440) before emptying into the Neuse southwest of Knightdale.

The creek lies within a flood plain that is historically prone to frequent flooding throughout its length, even after moderate rainfall. Construction of lakes on the creek and its tributaries to control floods have only partially alleviated this problem because rapid development of Wake County has greatly increased storm runoff. Crabtree Valley Mall derives its name from the creek; when the mall was constructed, the creek was redirected into an artificial channel behind the mall. At the time of construction there were predictions that the mall would flood. In fact, the new channel of the creek at the mall has proved to be inadequate for peak flows.

The highest recorded level of Crabtree Creek, measured at Glenwood Avenue near the mall, was 27.69 feet (8.44 m) in June 1973 shortly after the mall's completion. Tropical Storm Alberto (2006) caused the second highest elevation on record, 23.77 feet (7.25 m); and Hurricane Fran in September 1996 caused the third highest elevation, 23.00 feet (7.01 m). All three events flooded the lower level of the mall, inundated the mall's parking lots, and obstructed traffic in the vicinity. Even moderate storms wreak minor havoc around the mall; for instance, a storm in June 2006 caused an evacuation of the mall and significant property damage.

In the Cary/Morrisville area, the creek was dammed to create Lake Crabtree, a 520-acre (2.1 km2) flood control lake. Lake Crabtree County Park, Raleigh's Crabtree Boulevard and Raleigh's Crabtree Park are all either named after the creek or the adjoining lake.

Lassiter Mill[edit]

The dam across Crabtree Creek at Lassiter Mill.
City of Raleigh plaque at Lassiter Mill.

According to the City of Raleigh plaque at the site, one of Wake County's first mills was located on Crabtree Creek at a site known as "the Great Falls of Crabtree." The first mill was constructed before 1764, and the current foundations are remnants of a grist mill constructed by Cornelius Jesse Lassiter in 1908. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1958. Today, the Lassiter Mill site is a Raleigh City park, part of the greenway system, and is open to the public.

Crabtree Creek Greenway[edit]

The Crabtree Creek greenway is a 14.6 miles (23.5 km) paved trail that follows Crabtree Creek northwest from the Neuse River Trail beginning at Anderson Point Park to Lindsay Dr.[1] The final 4.1 miles (6.6 km) "east extension" section was completed in 2015 connecting the existing trail at Milburnie Road to the Neuse River Trail at Anderson Point Park. The city is planning a "west extension" (which will extend the 14.6 miles) to Umstead State Park. That project's planning will take approximately 12 months to complete with construction anticipated to begin Spring 2017.[2] The completed Crabtree Creek Trail will extend across the city, connecting numerous important areas and facilities: Umstead State Park, Crabtree Valley Mall, North Raleigh, Shelley Lake, Sertoma Park, Lassiter Mill, Kiwanis Park, and Anderson Point Park.[3]


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