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)