Posts Tagged ‘mountains to sea trail’
This fall we wanted to further explore Falls Lake so we set off with intentions to start closer to the dam and finish Day Hike A of the Mountains-to-Sea trail. Falls Lake Dam is on the eastern side of the lake (see map) and has helped control flooding from the Neuse River ever since its completion in 1981. Having previously hiked a portion of Falls Lake starting at Raven Ridge Rd we wanted to start closer to the dam in hopes of actually seeing it before the kiddos got too tuckered.
Unfortunately the main entrance gates to Falls Lake park were closed on this Sunday morning so we had to park in the small parking lot near Falls Center Management Rd/Falls of Neuse Rd intersection. After a long walk into the park on the paved trail that parallels the road, the little ones in the group were restless for any trail hiking so we explored the areas around the dam including the (surprise!) playground instead.
The playground is designed for ages 5-12 and includes a few slides, climbing structures, tic-tac-toe, and several nearby picnic tables and benches. It’s a small playground, but the perfect size for a park with so many more activities. After taking in the views from the top of the dam, we walked down the unpaved trail adjacent to the playground where we got up close and personal with the beginning of the Neuse River. The girls enjoyed throwing rocks in the water while we saw fishermen and birds. There’s also a small parking lot, canoe launch, restrooms, information map, picnic tables, and access to the start of the Neuse River Trail greenway at the bottom of the dam.
Even though we didn’t make it to our planned trail that day, everyone had a fun time whether it was on the playground, along the river bank, or finding furry caterpillars. I look forward to attempting Day Hike A again sometime soon where we’ll park in the lot closest to the dam!
- Friends of NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail Day Hike A information
- previously hiked portion of Mountains-to-Sea trail (Day Hike A)
Thumbs up: views from top of dam, playground, considerable amount of picnic tables
Thumbs down: signage in park, nc state park information online lacks details (no mention of gate closure, playground, parking near dam)
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 section 27 (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 section 1 of his guide, but in reverse order (don’t ask why). Next time, we’ll start at the dam and head west on the trail.
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)
A couple of months ago we attended the Neuse River Trail grand opening at Anderson Point Park located at 20 Anderson Point Dr. Most grand openings we attend are usually low-key and only involve a few important speakers, but this celebration was full of food trucks, live music, crafts for kids, local vendors and more. As typical, we sat through 5 minutes of the grand opening speeches and then played on the playground before hitting up the food, vendors and crafts.
The Neuse River Trail is located on the eastern side of Raleigh paralleling the Neuse River with 7 bridges over the river throughout the trail; it begins at Falls Dam Lake and continues south past the WRAL Soccer Park, Buffaloe Rd Park, Milburnie Park, Anderson Pointe Park and to the Johnston County line. The new section of trail added 20 additional miles, bringing the total distance of this paved trail to 27.5 miles. The Neuse River Trail allows for easy connections west to Crabtree Creek Trail or Walnut Creek Trail and is a great connection between the municipalities of Wake Forest, Raleigh, Knightdale, and Johnston County. Part of the trail is also a segment of the Mountains to Sea Trail that extends from the Great Smokey Mountains to the Outer Banks.
After devouring some delicious pizza from my favorite local food truck, Klausie’s, Ashley and I headed south on the trail for about a mile before her patience and the time got the best of us. The parts of the trail we walked were gorgeous – the trails are 10ft wide, the views of the river are amazing, and the bridges make for exciting photo ops.
To access the Neuse River Trail near Anderson Point Park, the parking spots are either inside the park or at the parking lot near the canoe put-in at 22 Anderson Point Dr. At this location, you’ll be near mile marker 17 of 27.5. I can’t wait to return and explore more of the trail on bike next time!
- Greenway map (includes parking and trail information)
- Neuse River Trail map (detailed)
- Anderson Point Park review
- Dedication & historical information
Thumbs up: condition of trail, scenic views of river, photo ops, bridges
Thumbs down: signage to trails from within park