Crabtree Creek is a tributary to the Neuse River. The creek starts out in Cary, flows through Bond Park, Lake Crabtree and Umstead Park and roughly follows the beltline (I-440) around Raleigh to its confluence with Neuse River. Lake Crabtree and the adjoining County Park and Crabtree Valley and the mall are named after the creek.
The river flows through a variety of settings. Marsh lands upstream of Lake Crabtree, rocky rapids in Umstead Park, a human-made channel near Crabtree Valley mall and serene slow-flowing setting around Lassiter Mill Dam.
While the creek is often out of sight and barely noticed by many who cross it every day, it is not without issues. The river has long been known for flooding due to its geographic setting, and the problem has been aggravated by run-off from impervious surfaces in recent decades. Crabtree Mall, built in a flood plain, has repeatedly been flooded by the creek.
Another current concern is the contamination with PCBs, which has been linked to ground contamination by Ward Transformer, an electrical equipment factory located north of the Raleigh-Durham airport. The plant is now a superfund site and in the process of being cleaned up. Meanwhile, advisory signs are posted along the river that fish caught there should not be consumed.
Crabtree creek is not considered navigable by boats, but it can be run in a kayak downstream from Lake Crabtree when the water levels are right.