Just moment away from Raleigh, North Carolina, Falls Lake State Park waits serenely on 26,000 acres of woodland. With a12,000-acre lake, several camping areas, multiple beaches, fishing docks, boating docks and Blue Jay County Park, there are no shortages to the fun that Falls Lake State Park offers. Another attraction of this park is that it is part of the Mountains-to Sea-Trail which stretches 1,000 miles from Jockey’s Ridge on North Carolina’s Outer Banks to Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Camping at Falls Lake is allowed at four different camping sites; Hollypoint, Shinleaf, Rollingview and B.W. Wells. Choose your campsite by whether you wish to walk in or drive in and whether or not you would like to have electrical hook-ups or not. Most of the campsites are family sites but there are some group sites as well, making it a great place for scouts, church groups and other large groups to camp together. Most sites are near to facilities such as toilets and hot showers but it is best to find out ahead of time because some of the primitive sites are, in fact, quite primitive and your nearest restroom might be the nearest bush. The showers are always clean, hot and great after a day of swimming or hiking.
Falls Lake has quite a few swimming beaches that are all clean, easy to get to and are near restrooms. Although there are no lifeguards on the beaches, there are peg-boards with life jackets that swimmers may use free of charge. Motor boating, kayaking, canoeing, water-skiing and jet-skiing are all popular water activities and the water can get quite crowded in the summer. For those who do not wish to hear the noise of some of these water sports, head on over to Beaver Dam Beach because this area is closed to water activities involving motors and is much more peaceful. The beaches of Falls Lake have real beach sand which means that people who prefer to stay dry can enjoy the sun, play volleyball or build sandcastles instead.
Pick up a park guide on your way into any of the beaches or camping sites because the guide details all of the hiking trails that Falls Lake State Park offers. There are short hikes that are great for families and kids and longer hikes that are enjoyed by more advanced hikers. Things of interest on some of these hikes include a well-constructed beaver dam (sometimes you can even get a glimpse of one of the beavers), heron homes with the herons sitting on top of them, a small graveyard from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s, an old homestead and part of the Mountains-to-the Sea Trail. Bird-watchers will enjoy the herons, blue jays, and eagles that can be seen here. Check with the ranger for ranger-led hikes and other activities to participate in.
Blue Jay County Park
This 236-acre park is located within the State Park, on the shores of Falls Lake. The park’s mission is environmental education and, thus, they have wonderful nature classes for all ages such as tree identification, a Night Owl Walk, a Songbird Celebration every spring, classes on hummingbirds, plants and water, to name a few. Blue Jay also has a Lodge that scouts, classes and various groups can rent out overnight. It has two wings with 18 beds each, an industrial kitchen and a huge room in which to do Activity Boxes (part of the reason of staying here), watch educational films and a large fireplace with couches. Outside is a fire-ring for S’mores and camp-fire singing. There are nature trails all around the lodge that are woven into their Activity Boxes and include games such as Bird Bingo, Tree Bingo and Insect Bingo. Nearby is a pond in which to study pond life, a garden, a composting area that teaches composting and a field in which to study hopping creatures and insects. The Education Building has a host of other educational material that is taught to children in a fun, hands-on, style.
Blue Jay County Park also has a playground, a ball-field and ranger-led activities to participate in for the day.
Falls Lake State Park
13304 Creedmoor Rd.,
Wake Forest, NC 27587