Every New Year’s Day, NC hosts First Day Hikes all over their state parks to promote a healthy start to the year. Even though the organized First Day Hikes didn’t exactly work with our kiddo schedules we drove up for a short hike of our own near Falls Lake.
Falls Lake is a state recreation area just 10 miles north of Raleigh with 7 individual parks, a 12,000-acre lake and 26,000 acres of woodlands. For our hike, we chose one of the southeastern fingers to explore. The portion of the trail we hiked is from Day Hike A (from Shinleaf Rec Area to Falls Lake Dam) of the Mountains to Sea Trail. Mark Edelstein provides a very detailed description of the hiking trails through Falls Lake, which I used to help navigate the area. We hiked a portion of this trail heading west to east.
To find the gravel pull-off parking area (noted at the 3.5mi mark in Section 1) we drove north on Falls of Neuse Rd and turned left on Raven Ridge Rd and parked along the side of the road shortly after passing Annie Wilkerson Nature Park. After getting everyone strapped in their gear, we set off by following the small sign pointing east towards Falls Lake Dam, which is 3.5 miles away.
This is a very moderate hike with small hills and a fairly wide trail throughout. It is a heavily wooded area, giving a lot of shade to the trail. Most of this section also closely follows much of the lake, so there are several lake inhabitants and small waterfalls to discover along the way (great for puddle stomping during summer time). We also passed a trail entrance into Annie Louise Wilkerson Nature Park, which happened to be closed for the New Year holiday, but would be fun to incorporate into a short hike.
We only hiked about 2.4 total miles that day and didn’t make it to Falls Lake Dam, but I’m looking forward to starting at the dam and heading west on our next hike through Falls Lake.
- list of day hikes through Falls Lake as compiled by the Mountains to Sea Trail campaign
- Detailed hiking descriptions from Falls Lake Dam to Raven Ridge Rd
- Falls Lake map (although not detailed enough for hiking trails)
Thumbs up: views along stream, clear hiking signage along trail, great shade
Thumbs down: planning a hike in Falls Lake using NC Parks online resources (use the Mountains to Sea Trail site instead)