Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section In North Carolina

Here is everything you need to know about the Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: North Carolina
  • Length: 26 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: North Carolina State Parks
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section is a part of the larger Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) that stretches across the state of North Carolina, from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. The Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section, specifically, covers a distance of approximately 60 miles along the southern shore of Falls Lake, a reservoir located in Wake and Durham counties.

The history of the Falls Lake area dates back to the early 20th century when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the Falls Lake Dam as part of a flood control project. The dam was completed in 1981, creating the 12,410-acre Falls Lake. The creation of the lake not only provided flood protection but also served as a source of drinking water for the surrounding communities.

The development of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail began in the 1970s as a vision to create a long-distance trail that would showcase the diverse landscapes and cultural heritage of North Carolina. The Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section was added to the MST in the early 2000s, providing hikers with an opportunity to explore the scenic beauty of the Falls Lake area.

Throughout the trail section, hikers can witness remnants of the area’s history, including old homesteads, farmsteads, and tobacco barns that once dotted the landscape. These structures serve as a reminder of the region’s agricultural past and the importance of farming in the local economy. Additionally, the trail passes through sections of forested areas, providing glimpses of the natural beauty that has been preserved in this part of North Carolina.

Overall, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section offers hikers a chance to immerse themselves in the historical and natural heritage of the Falls Lake area. It serves as a testament to the rich history and cultural significance of this region in North Carolina.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Falls Lake Dam
2. Rolling View Recreation Area
3. Shinleaf Recreation Area
4. Sandling Beach Recreation Area
5. Beaverdam Recreation Area
6. Highway 50 Access
7. Highway 98 Access
8. Highway 96 Access
9. Highway 98 Bypass Access
10. Highway 70 Access
11. Blue Jay Point County Park
12. Raven Ridge Road Access
13. Six Forks Road Access
14. Falls of Neuse Road Access
15. Durant Nature Preserve
16. Anderson Point Park
17. Buffaloe Road Athletic Park
18. Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
19. Clayton River Walk
20. Smithfield Community Park

Transportation Available

1. Uber – On-demand ridesharing service.
2. Lyft – On-demand ridesharing service.
3. Taxi – Traditional taxi service for transportation.
4. Rental Car – Car rental service for self-driving.
5. Bus – Public transportation service with fixed routes and schedules.
6. Bike Rental – Rental service for bicycles.
7. Shuttle Service – Scheduled transportation service for specific destinations.
8. Limousine Service – Luxury transportation service with professional chauffeurs.
9. Airport Shuttle – Shuttle service to and from the airport.
10. Train – Rail transportation service with fixed routes and schedules.


The amenities available at the Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various points along the trail, including at trailheads and designated camping areas.

2. Parking: There are parking areas available at multiple trailheads along the Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section. These parking areas provide convenient access to the trail for hikers and visitors.

3. Camping Sites: The trail section offers designated camping sites for overnight stays. These sites are equipped with amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and tent pads. Permits may be required for camping, so it is advisable to check with the relevant authorities beforehand.

4. Picnic Areas: There are several picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack. These areas are equipped with picnic tables and sometimes have grills or fire pits for cooking.

5. Water Access: The trail section runs along Falls Lake, providing opportunities for water activities such as swimming, fishing, and boating. There may be designated swimming areas or boat ramps available for public use.

6. Scenic Overlooks: The trail offers various scenic overlooks where hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including the lake and nearby forests.

7. Interpretive Signs: Along the trail, there may be interpretive signs providing information about the local flora, fauna, and history of the area. These signs offer educational opportunities for visitors.

8. Trail Markers: The trail is marked with signage and blazes to help hikers navigate the route. These markers ensure that visitors can easily follow the trail and stay on the designated path.

It is important to note that amenities may vary along different sections of the trail, so it is advisable to check specific information for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section before planning a visit.

Nearby Services

1. Falls Lake State Recreation Area – Offers camping, cabins, and picnic areas along the trail.
2. Rolling View Campground – Campground with RV and tent sites, as well as boat rentals.
3. Holly Point Campground – Lakeside campground with RV and tent sites, boat ramps, and swimming areas.
4. Shinleaf Recreation Area – Campground with tent sites, picnic areas, and access to the lake.
5. Blue Jay Point County Park – Park with picnic areas, playgrounds, and educational programs.
6. Falls Village Golf Course – Golf course with a restaurant and event facilities.
7. Wake Forest – Nearby town with various lodging options, restaurants, and shops.
8. Raleigh – Capital city with a wide range of lodging, dining, and emergency services available.

Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section Difficulty Notes

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section presents a moderate difficulty level for hikers. Spanning approximately 60 miles, this section offers a diverse terrain that includes rolling hills, wooded areas, and occasional steep inclines. While the trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, hikers should be prepared for some challenging sections that require endurance and proper footwear. Additionally, the trail can be muddy and slippery after rainfall, adding an extra level of difficulty. However, the stunning views of Falls Lake and the surrounding natural beauty make the effort worthwhile, providing a rewarding experience for those seeking a moderate hiking challenge.

Features And Attractions

1. Falls Lake: The trail starts at Falls Lake, a beautiful reservoir located in Wake County. The lake offers stunning views and is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and picnicking.

2. Rolling View Recreation Area: This recreation area is located on the south shore of Falls Lake and offers scenic views of the lake and surrounding woodlands. It is a great spot for camping, hiking, and wildlife viewing.

3. Mountains-to-Sea Trail Bridge: As you hike along the trail, you will come across a bridge that crosses over Falls Lake. This bridge offers panoramic views of the lake and is a great spot to take in the scenery.

4. Historic Yates Mill County Park: Located near the trail, this park is home to Yates Mill, a fully restored gristmill dating back to the 18th century. Visitors can take guided tours of the mill and learn about its history.

5. Blue Jay Point County Park: This park is situated on a peninsula on Falls Lake and offers stunning views of the water. It has several hiking trails, picnic areas, and a nature center where visitors can learn about the local flora and fauna.

6. Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park: This nature preserve is located near the trail and offers over 150 acres of natural beauty. It has several hiking trails, a pond, and educational exhibits about the local ecosystem.

7. Durant Nature Preserve: Situated on the outskirts of Raleigh, this nature preserve offers scenic views of the surrounding woodlands and wetlands. It has several hiking trails, a lake, and a nature center.

8. Raleigh Greenway System: The Mountains-to-Sea Trail connects with the Raleigh Greenway System, a network of paved trails that wind through the city. This section of the trail offers a mix of urban and natural scenery.

9. Historic Oak View County Park: Located near the trail, this park is home to Oak View, a historic farmstead dating back to the 19th century. Visitors can explore the farm buildings, gardens, and learn about the area’s agricultural history.

10. Neuse River Trail: Towards the end of the Falls Lake South Shore Trail section, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail connects with the Neuse River Trail. This scenic trail follows the Neuse River and offers beautiful views of the water and surrounding woodlands.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Horses and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
– Camping is only permitted in designated camping areas.
– Campfires are only allowed in designated fire rings or grills.
– Littering is strictly prohibited; all trash must be carried out.
– Hunting and fishing are allowed in accordance with state regulations.
– Bicycles are allowed on certain sections of the trail, but riders must yield to hikers and horses.
– Swimming and boating are allowed in designated areas only.
– The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may have seasonal restrictions or closures due to weather conditions or maintenance work.

Seasonal Information

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section is a picturesque and diverse trail that offers stunning views and a variety of outdoor activities. The best times of the year to visit this section of the trail are during the spring and fall seasons. In the spring, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers and lush greenery, creating a beautiful backdrop for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The weather during this time is generally mild, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and camping.

During the fall season, the trail is transformed into a colorful wonderland as the leaves change into vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. The crisp air and cooler temperatures make it a pleasant time to explore the trail and enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding landscape. Fall also brings opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting, as many species migrate or prepare for the winter months.

It is important to note that the Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section may have seasonal closures or restrictions. These closures are typically in place during the winter months when the trail may become icy or unsafe due to inclement weather conditions. It is advisable to check with local authorities or trail organizations for any updates or closures before planning your visit.

Despite the seasonal closures, the trail remains accessible for a significant portion of the year, allowing visitors to experience the natural beauty and tranquility of the area. Whether you choose to visit during the vibrant spring or the colorful fall, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section promises a memorable outdoor adventure for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.


1. Paved Surface: The trail section has a paved surface, providing a smooth and accessible pathway for wheelchair users.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the trailhead, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are provided along the trail, equipped with features such as grab bars and wider doorways.
4. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas along the trail are designed to be accessible, allowing wheelchair users to enjoy outdoor dining.
5. Accessible Fishing Piers: Fishing piers with accessible features, such as lowered railings and wider spaces, are available for individuals with disabilities.
6. Accessible Campsites: Campsites along the trail are designed to be accessible, providing amenities such as level ground and accessible picnic tables.
7. Accessible Informational Signage: Informational signs along the trail are designed to be accessible, featuring large fonts, braille, and tactile elements.
8. Accessible Trailhead: The trailhead is designed to be accessible, featuring accessible parking, restrooms, and signage for easy navigation.
9. Accessible Trail Markers: Trail markers along the path are designed to be accessible, featuring clear and visible signage for individuals with disabilities.
10. Accessible Water Fountains: Accessible water fountains are available along the trail, designed with features such as lower spouts and easy reach.
11. Accessible Scenic Overlooks: Scenic overlooks along the trail are designed to be accessible, providing wheelchair users with stunning views.
12. Accessible Wildlife Viewing Areas: Wildlife viewing areas along the trail are designed to be accessible, allowing individuals with disabilities to observe nature.
13. Accessible Trail Bridges: Trail bridges are designed to be accessible, featuring wider pathways and handrails for wheelchair users.
14. Accessible Trail Loops: The trail section includes accessible trail loops, providing individuals with disabilities the opportunity to explore different routes.
15. Accessible Trail Experiences: The trail section offers various accessible experiences, ensuring individuals with disabilities can enjoy the beauty of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: Moderate – The trail is moderately challenging with some steep sections and uneven terrain.
2. Trail Length: 60 miles – The section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Falls Lake South Shore spans 60 miles.
3. Weather Conditions: Be prepared for changing weather conditions – Pack appropriate clothing and gear for varying weather conditions as the trail is exposed to the elements.
4. Water Sources: Limited water sources – Carry enough water or water filtration system as there are limited water sources along the trail.
5. Wildlife Encounters: Be cautious of wildlife encounters – Keep a safe distance and follow guidelines for encounters with animals such as snakes, bears, and insects.
6. Trail Markings: Follow trail markings and signs – Pay attention to trail blazes and signs to stay on the correct path.
7. Trail Maintenance: Some sections may require maintenance – Be prepared for potential trail maintenance issues and report any problems to the appropriate authorities.
8. Camping: Designated camping areas available – Utilize designated camping areas along the trail for overnight stays.
9. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles – Minimize your impact on the environment by following Leave No Trace principles, including proper waste disposal and respecting wildlife and vegetation.
10. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a first aid kit and emergency supplies – Be prepared for emergencies by carrying a first aid kit, extra food, and other necessary emergency supplies.
11. Trail Etiquette: Yield to other trail users – Be courteous to other hikers, bikers, or equestrians and yield the right of way when necessary.
12. Cell Phone Reception: Limited cell phone reception – Expect limited or no cell phone reception along certain sections of the trail.
13. Trail Closure Notices: Check for trail closure notices – Stay updated on any trail closures or advisories before embarking on your hike.
14. Hiking in Groups: Consider hiking in groups – Hiking with others can enhance safety and provide assistance in case of emergencies.
15. Time Management: Plan your hike accordingly – Estimate your hiking time and plan accordingly to ensure you have enough daylight and time to complete the trail safely.

Conservation Notes

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section is a significant part of the larger Mountains-to-Sea Trail system in North Carolina. In terms of conservation status, this particular section is considered to be well-preserved and protected. The trail passes through Falls Lake State Recreation Area, which is managed by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. This agency is dedicated to conserving and protecting the natural resources within the park, ensuring the sustainability of the trail and its surrounding environment.

The conservation efforts for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section focus on maintaining the ecological integrity of the area. The trail traverses diverse habitats, including forests, wetlands, and shoreline areas. These habitats provide essential habitats for a variety of plant and animal species. Conservation measures include regular monitoring of the trail and its surroundings to identify any potential threats to the ecosystem. Additionally, efforts are made to control invasive species and prevent habitat degradation caused by human activities.

The conservation status of this trail section is further enhanced by the collaboration between the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation and local conservation organizations. These partnerships work towards preserving the natural beauty and ecological health of the area. Through educational programs and community engagement, they raise awareness about the importance of conservation and responsible trail use. The conservation status of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Falls Lake South Shore Trail Section is a testament to the commitment of these organizations and the community to protect and sustain the natural resources along the trail.

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