STATE PARKS

Falls Lake State Recreation Area

DSC_4098-01We spent Mother’s day afternoon at the Beaverdam swimming area of Falls Lake and while beautiful, the beach was CROWDED! Falls Lake is used often for family reunions and group events.  We ended up setting up in the picnic section, and it was so much more peaceful, with a shelter of trees and lovely mossy ground.  The lake itself is gorgeous, with a clay bottom and little islands and banks covered in pine trees.  Beaverdam is one of 5 swimming areas (2 were already marked “Full” when we arrived), and is especially nice because there are no motorized boats allowed in that area. Aside from the shoulder to shoulder people in the area, Falls Lake beaches offer bathhouses, playgrounds, and picnic areas.  The park is also on the Mountains to the Sea Trail and is  great for hiking and mountain biking.   There are campsites ranging from RV hookups to primitive, and 2 of the beaches on site are dedicated for camper use only.  The canoeing and kayaking are great here, as there are so many great islands to circle and explore, and you can launch from the great boat ramps or at several walk-outs along the shoreline.  Hope you and your family have an opportunity to spend some time at Falls Lake soon!

Know Before You Go:  The beach and picnic areas fill up early.  Apparently, people go early and set up, and will occasionally move other people’s items around in order to make room for their own.  Week days are much less crowded.

There is a $7/ car fee for day use at the park from May to September, $6 on weekdays, with different fees for seniors and vans/buses. More information can be found here https://www.ncparks.gov/falls-lake-state-recreation-area/trails

There are restrooms in the beach areas with changing areas and outside showers.  There are also restrooms on the trails near the campgrounds.

There is plenty of wildlife at this park, including ticks and snakes.AirBrush_20180521204701

CITY AND TOWN PARKS, STATE PARKS

Eno River (Fews Ford and West Point)

screenshot_20180415-114719_instagram.jpgThe Eno River is by far the most wonderful area for checking our different ecosystems, with river access, streams, piney woods, rocky outcroppings,  and beautiful deciduous areas you can find a little of everything here. Both of these sites were homesites, so there are also interesting historic structures to explore. The draw of this place for our family is river swimming and waterfall sliding! Fews Ford has great swimming spots along the hiking trails, and a little waterfall that is perfect for kids to climb up and slide back down again!  There is also a swinging rope bridge there that allows for some great views of the river as well as its residents, like herons and reptiles of all sorts! We’ve spotted a few types of watersnakes sunning themselves along the banks.  Screenshot_20180415-124209_GalleryWest Point on the Eno is a Town of Durham park, and offers tons of picnicking opportunities, hiking and a little boat launch for wading near the Historic Mill.  There are a few groups that offer educational programs here, as well.  Hope you get out to explore all that the Eno has to offer soon!

With Love, Turtle Dove

 

Know Before You Go:  The Eno has a few access point in the Triangle.  West Point on the Eno is great for exploring and wading, but the State Park access at Fews Ford is really great for swimming. https://www.ncparks.gov/eno-river-state-park We park on Cole Mill Road, near the old homesite, and access the water and waterfall there.

There are plenty of snakes in this wild, beautiful wonderland!

There is a lot of glass in the river access at West Point, we always wear shoes there

Fishing is permitted near the swimming areas, look out for hooks

There are restrooms near the Fews Ford access.  At West Point, there are restrooms at near the old barn, and a portable restroom near the trail Screenshot_20180415-114728_Instagram

STATE PARKS

Jordan Lake State Recreational Site

Screenshot_20180410-185414_InstagramWith all the beach feels right in the Triangle, Jordan Lake offers beautiful marked swimming areas, secluded lagoons and beaches, well-equipped camping areas, and gorgeous hiking trails. Three of the swimming areas, Ebenezer Church rec area, Seaforth, and Parker’s Creek have great playgrounds, picnic and grills, and bathhouses with showers right on the water.  One of the best things about these beach areas are the bird watching that is available right on the lake, with bald eagle and osprey sightings frequent! Screenshot_20180415-112831_InstagramMy kids love the clay bottom lake for making squishy castles, and the tide pools that appear after rain for spying little fish and insect larvae. Hikes at  nearby New Hope Overlook and the trail around Seaforth are pretty manageable for kids and loop, which is always good for us, since mine don’t love backtracking! Hope you and your family get to spend one of these warm days at Jordan Lake soon!

With Love,  Turtle Dove

Know Before You Go:  Some of these beaches occasionally close for different events or natural occurrences like downed trees or water quality issues. Make sure to check the website at https://www.ncparks.gov/jordan-lake-state-recreation-area for current conditions

There are restrooms at all of the designated swimming areas, in the campgrounds, and along the trails. New Hope overlook has composting toilets along the trails

Water snakes can be found here, both in and around swimming areas and along trails

Ebenezer beach seems to be the least used beach here, with fewer guests, if you are looking for a smaller crowd

There are canoe and boat launches at the park, and fishing is popular here as well. Fishing is not allowed within swimming areas.

Swimming areas are not guarded, but they provide life jackets free for use at all three public beachesScreenshot_20180415-112912_Instagram

STATE PARKS

Bynum Beach/Bridge and the Lower Haw River State Natural Area

20180311_180737Bynum, a beautiful little community of creatives just south of Chapel Hill, acts as the gateway for parts of the Lower Haw River State Natural Area. This preserve that is now part of the park system boasts over 1000 acres of flowing (sometimes gushing!) waters, rock outcrops, and hiking trails. We park at the grafitti-decorated pedestrian bridge on Bynum Road, and hike along the river on both sides, exploring trees with mossy root systems that make perfect places to build fairy houses. The canoe access there is great for swimming or wading, and there always seems to be some new rope swing hanging off of a tree near the water’s edge.  It’s a lush, green wonderland in summer, and the bridge and trees provide shade for several great swimming areas. It’s one of our favorite “off-the-beaten-path” places to visit, I hope you get over there to see it sometime, too!

With Love,  Turtle Dove

Know before you go:

No public bathrooms are located here or nearby

It can be tough to find at first. One way is from US 15-501 south of the Haw River bridge, turn east on Bynum Road. Go 0.3 miles to the Bynum pedestrian bridge. Park along the road.

There are lots of “healthy” (read as HUGE) water snakes around the water and rocky areas to observe.

Tubing is awesome here, you just have to hike back up part of the Lower  Haw trail and cross the bridge afterward.

Fisherman like to cast in some of the areas that are also great for swimming, look out for hook snags.

 

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