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Butner-Falls of Neuse Game Land

Butner-Falls of Neuse Game Land is a 40,670-acre area surrounding Falls Lake in Wake, Durham and Greenville Counties.  The Falls Lake and the surrounding land is owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers, but leased to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission as state game land.  The Falls Lake Trail, a segment of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail runs along the south shore of the lake and the majority of the trail is within the game land.  As hunters are primary users of the game land, be sure to wear blaze orange while hiking during hunting season.  Additionally, the WRC has four free, 24-hour boat ramps to access the lake.

Map:

Falls Lake Trail:

The Falls Lake Trail, a section of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail, is a nearly 60-mile trail that runs along the southern shore of the lake.  Portions of the trail run through state park lands and other lands, but the majority is in Butner-Falls of Neuse Game Land, so I've included it here.  The trail is conveniently divided into 23 sections for easy day hiking.  The sections are listed below.  Note that there are different definitions of the sections, so these may be different from what you see on other websites or kiosks at trailheads.  I define a section as part of the trail where you can legally park a car at either end.  If the section of the trail has another name, I try to include that as well.  The trail sections go east to west, starting at the Falls Lake dam in North Raleigh and ending at Penny's Bend Nature Preserve in Durham.

Section 1:

Length: 3.4 miles
East Trailhead: Falls Lake Tailrace Parking on Falls of Neuse Road (35.93992,-78.58070)
West Trailhead: Raven Ridge Road at Honeycutt Creek (35.92844,-78.60581)

Section 1 of the Falls Lake Trail is also called Honeycutt Creek East.  The eastern trailhead is at the Falls Lake Tailrace at Falls Dam located off (Old) Falls of Neuse Road, right before the bridge over Neuse River.  There is a parking lot here as well as restrooms - about the only restrooms you'll find on the trail.  See my Falls Lake page for description of this area.  The Mountains-to-Sea Trail continues in the eastbound direction along the Neuse River Trail, part of the Capital Area Greenway.

The trail starts down a gravel road leading up to the dam and shortly ducks into the woods to the left and then splits.  The Blue-Dot Trail is a spur trail that bypasses the Falls Lake Dam Visitor Center and shaves about a quarter-mile off the hike.  After the split, the trail crosses the Falls Dam Management Road and turns right along another gravel road.  Shortly, the trail turns left into the woods and then crosses the Visitor Center Road.  Turn right here along a paved trail and go down the wooden stairs towards the lake.  From here the trail heads through the woods following the shoreline.  The Blue-Dot Trail joins back up with the main trail after about a mile from the start.  After this point, the trail departs from the shoreline and heads into the woods, crossing several small feeder streams and a utility easement.  In approximately 2.5 miles from the start, a trail to the left goes to Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve, a City of Raleigh Park.  Past here, the trail descends to and crosses a small unnamed tributary on a footbridge and then runs along this tributary as it feeds into Falls Lake.  This area is prone to floowing In less than a mile from here, the trail comes out on Raven Ridge Road and crosses Honeycutt Creek on the road.  Section 2 starts across the causeway.  Honeycutt Creek Trail, part of the Capital Area Greenway, starts across Raven Ridge Road on the east side of the causeway.

Section 2

Length: 2.4 miles
East Trailhead: Raven Ridge Road (35.93039,-78.60755)
West Trailhead: Possum Track Road at Red Fox Run (35.94508,-78.59030)

Section 2 of the trail is also called Honeycutt Creek West.  The eastern trailhead is right at the bridge over Honeycutt Creek along Raven Ridge Road, about 1.2 miles northwest of Falls of Neuse Road.  There is a pulloff on either side of the bridge for hiker parking.  The trail heads into the woods following Honeycutt Creek as it flows into Falls Lake.  The trail follows the shoreline for much of this section, passing behind some very large homes.  In about 1.5 miles, the trail passes an old farm pond on the left. Near the end of this section, the trail comes out on Red Fox Run, a private gravel road, and ends at the dead end of Possum Track Road.

Section 3

Length: 3.0 miles
East Trailhead: Possum Track Road at Red Fox Run (35.94508,-78.59030)
West Trailhead: Possum Track Road (35.95253,-78.61120)

This section is also called Neuse Bend Point.  The eastern trailhead is located at the end of Possum Track Road where it intersects with Red Fox Run, a private gravel road.  There is limited parking at the dead end of Possum Track Road, which once continued further before the lake was constructed.  Red Fox Run is a private road, so please don't park here or trespass on private property.  The trail sets off through the woods and crosses a gated paved road in about a quarter-mile and then heads back into the woods.  The trail has some ups-and-downs heading through forested areas and wildlife clearings.  In about 2.5 miles from the start, the trail passes a big drainage pipe and Possum Track Road can be seen directly above.  The trail parallels the road for the next half-mile, heading up to the road along a concrete culvert right before the road crosses Cedar Creek on a causeway.

Section 4

Length: 2.8 miles
East Trailhead: Possum Track Road (35.95478,-78.61291)
West Trailhead: Bayleaf Church Road (35.96386,-78.63264)

Section 4 of the trail is also called Cedar Creek.  The eastern trailhead is along Possum Track Road just northwest of the intersection with Raven Ridge Road and across the bridge; cars can be parked along either side of the road here. The trail dips into the woods past the guardrail and runs through a pine forest.  Just before an old roadbed, a spur trail to the right leads to camping area.  The campsites are free but there are no amenities and fires are prohibited.  In just under a mile there will be another old roadbed and then an old, rusty, flipped car on the left.  After the car, you can see the remains of an old building to the right and the trail crosses the roadbed.  The trail continues through the woods for a ways and then starts to get closer to the lake.with nice views as you hike around a promontory.  After this part, the trail runs along a cove and enters NC State Parks land.  In less than a half-mile from entering State Parks land, the trail section ends at Bayleaf Church Road at the Yorkshire Center.  Note that this is an administrative facility for Falls Lake and there are no public amenities - park before the gate without blocking it or the road.

Section 5

Length: 1.3 miles
East Trailhead: Bayleaf Church Road (35.96386,-78.63264)
West Trailhead: Six Forks Road (35.95616,-78.64292)

This section is also called Loblolly Point.  The eastern trailhead is on Bayleaf Church Road, just past the gates to the Yorkshire Center.  The Yorkshire Center is a State Parks administrative facility and does not have public amenities, so park outside the gate without blocking it.  Walk down the road past the gate and the trailhead is on the left.  From the Yorkshire Center building, there is a nice view across the lake to Blue Jay Point.  The trail runs through State Parks land for about a half-mile then through game land along Lower Barton Creek for about another mile.  The trail then comes out on Six Forks Road and crosses Lower Barton Creek on the causeway.

Section 6

Length: 3.1 miles
East Trailhead: Six Forks Road (35.96035,-78.64511)
West Trailhead: Six Forks Road (35.97180,-78.65431)

This section is also called Blue Jay Point, because it passes through Blue Jay Point County Park.  The eastern trailhead is along Six Forks Road less than a mile after the split with Possum Track Road.  Street parking is available just after the bridge.  This section is the only section that doesn't cross through game land - the entire section is within the park where hunting is prohibited.  The trail follows the perimeter of Blue Jay Point, a peninsula that juts out into Falls Lake.  There are several other park trails that intersect with or run concurrent with the Falls Lake Trail so pay attention to the white blazes.  In about a mile, the trail crosses Beaver Point Trail and in another half-mile, crosses Blue Jay Point Trail.  Both of these trails provide a short detour to points out on the lake.  The trail then joins Laurel Loop Trail for a short ways, splits off and joins Sandy Point Trail, then splits and leads up to parking area near the Overnight Lodge.  At the parking lot, the trail crosses the road and heads back into the woods, running along the north shore of the peninsula on Upper Barton Creek before coming back out on Six Forks Road just south of the causeway over Upper Barton Creek.  See my Blue Jay Point County Park for more information on this section.

Section 7

Length: 2.6 miles
East Trailhead: Six Forks Road (35.97576,-78.65657)
West Trailhead: Durham Highway/NC-98 (35.97893,-78.63449)

This section is also called Upper Barton Creek.  The eastern trailhead is off Six Forks Road right at the the Upper Barton Creek Boat Ramp (one can also park here instead of roadside as there is ample parking).  From the pulloff along Six Forks Road, the trail goes into the woods for a short ways and then crosses the large Upper Barton Creek Boat Ramp parking lot and then heads into a pine forest.  It then runs through a powerline clearing, heads back into the woods to go around a cove, then crosses the powerline clearing again.  A little over a mile from the trailhead, the trail comes back out at the powerline clearing and has been rerouted to go around a drainage area.  The trail mostly stays in the woods from this point with some views of the lake.  At about 2 miles from the trailhead, the trail follows an old overgrown paved road (NC-98 before the lake was constructed).  Towards the end of this road, turn left to head back into the woods for the final stretch.  There is a very big and very old white oak tree that was along the trail.  This tree was believed to be the oldest tree on Falls Lake at over 400 years old.  Unfortunately, this massive tree split and came down some time in 2016.  The trail has been rerouted around the tree.

Section 8

Length: 3.4 miles
East Trailhead: Durham Highway/NC-98 (35.97893,-78.63449)
West Trailhead: New Light Road (35.99552,-78.66339)

This section is also called Shinleaf Recreation.  The eastern trailhead is along Durham Highway (NC-98) a mile or so east of Six Forks Road and just before the bridge over Falls Lake.  Street parking is available along the side of the road.  If hiking from Section 7, use caution when crossing NC-98, where the speed limit is 55 and most drivers go faster.  From NC-98, the trail heads into the woods and through a powerline clearing and then back into the woods, ducking in and out of coves along the way.  In about 2.5 miles, the trail enters the Shinleaf Recreation Area, part of Falls Lake State Recreation Area with camping, restrooms, and parking amenities available.  The hike-in campsites are available year-round, but registration is required.  See my Falls Lake State Recreation Area page for more details.  When the area is closed, there is a turnaround at the gate where a few cars can park for hiking access.  Cross the parking lot and follow the trail back into the woods, passing the Norwood Family cemetery.  In about another half-mile, the trail comes out on New Light Road just before it crosses the lake.

Section 9

Length: 0.5 miles
East Trailhead: New Light Road (35.99552,-78.66339)
West Trailhead: Ghoston Road (35.99911,-78.66866)

This section is also called Twin Creek.  The eastern trailhead is along New Light Road less than a mile north of NC-98 and shortly before it crosses the lake.  Limited street parking is available along the side of the road.  The trail heads into the woods and runs behind some homes before turning a crossing a couple footbridges then ending at Ghoston Road in about a half-mile.

Section 10

Length: 2.7 miles
East Trailhead: Ghoston Road (35.99911,-78.66866)
West Trailhead: Creedmoor Road/NC-50 (36.01240,-78.68914)

This section is also called Quail Roost.  The eastern trailhead is along Ghoston Road less than a mile north of NC-98.  Street parking is available along the side of the road.  The first 1.5 miles of this trail are fairly typical with the trail running along coves with short ups and downs.  Then the trail begins to follow old roadbeds and get away from the lake.  Be sure to follow the blazes as the trail piggbacks on several of these roads and turns are not always obvious.  The trail then enters State Park land and crosses a couple service roads and then the main park road to the Falls Lake Visitor Center before ending at NC-50, just before it crosses the lake.

Section 11

Length: 5.3 miles
East Trailhead: Creedmoor Road/NC-50 (36.01240,-78.68914)
West Trailhead: Boyce Mill Road (35.99104,-78.71965)

The eastern trailhead is along Creedmoor Road (NC-50) just after the entrance to the park office and just before the bridge over Falls Lake.  There is a small parking area on the side of the road just before the bridge.  Parking for hiking the Falls Lake Trail is NOT allowed at the Falls Lake Visitor Center here - park on the side of Creedmoor Road.  Cross the road and head into the woods.  Soon you'll come back around and hike up through a powerline clearing and then turn right to head back into the woods.  Continue on the trail for about a mile and a half, passing into Durham County, and soon you should see Rolling View Marina across the lake.  After the marina, you'll head away from the lake and hike around a couple coves.  This is a great area to spot spring wildflowers.  There are a couple of easy stream crossings with stepping stones to assist.  In about 3.5 miles from the start, you'll come to a clearing and an old homesite, perhaps the best one along Falls Lake Trail.  An old tobacco barn is still standing right next to the trail as well as several other structures.  This area has been recently logged.  Continuing on the trail, there are two more stream crossings.  The bridge for second has been washed out so you'll have to rock hop to get across.  About a mile from the old homesite, the trail crosses Laurel Creek.  The crossing is rather wide and can be tricky in high water.  After this crossing, you'll follow an old roadbed that is initially flat, then heads uphill and ends at Boyce Mill Road at the western trailhead.

Section 12

Length: 1.7 miles
East Trailhead: Boyce Mill Road (35.99104,-78.71965)
West Trailhead: Wake Forest Highway/NC-98 (35.98065,-78.73705)

The eastern trailhead is at the end of Boyce Mill Road.  There is limited parking at the end of the road just before the gate.  Hike past the gate a short ways and the trail will split to the left and pass a farm pond.  The trail follows an old road bed heading down and then back up.  The trail becomes more of a foot trail as it runs along the southeastern shore of Lick Creek until it reaches NC-98.  To continue on the Falls Lake Trail, walk along the side of NC-98 (do not cross the highway) across the causeway over Lick Creek for almost a half-mile to the trailhead for Section 13 at a kiosk on the right.

Section 13

Length: 3.3 miles
East Trailhead: Wake Forest Highway/NC-98 (35.98184,-78.74384)
West Trailhead: Baptist Road/Rolling View Recreation Area (36.00404,-78.72802)

The eastern trailhead is along the side of NC-98, west of the causeway over Lick Creek.  There is limited street parking along the side of the road here.  The trail begins heading into the woods past the kiosk.  Pass through a clearing and then back into the woods in a low-lying area that can be wet.  There are some boardwalks at parts to help, but the trail itself can be very muddy.  Soon you'll go through a powerline clearing with hunter's stand on one of the trees here.  The trail then follows the lake more closely departing for a short ways to cross a tributary and then back along the lake as it enters State Parks land just over 2 miles from the trailhead.  In about another half-mile, a blue-blazed spur trail splits to the left.  This spur trail leads to hiker parking lot outside the Rolling View Recreation Area gates.  After the split, you'll pass a pond on the left and then turn left to walk along powerlines before coming out at the western trailhead along Baptist Road at the intersection with Falls Lake Road.  Turn right and continue past the park entrance station to pick up Section 14 along the left side of the road.  Note that there is no parking at the directly at the end western trailhead; park at the MST parking lot before entering Rolling View Recreation Area and use the blue-blazed spur trail to access Section 13 from the western end.

Section 14

Length: 4.2 miles
East Trailhead: Baptist Road/Rolling View Recreation Area (36.00404,-78.72802)
West Trailhead: Jimmy Rogers Road (36.01323,-78.77771)

The trailhead is along Baptist Road in Rolling View Recreation Area.  There is a parking lot just outside the entrance to Rolling View with a short spur trial that leads to the trail.  Because there is a fee to enter Rolling View Recreation Area, the parking lot allows hikers to access the trail without paying admission.  The spur trail runs about a half-mile to its intersection with the main trail.  The trail runs for about a mile through the woods passing through some areas that have been burned.  In about a mile, the trail approaches the lake and runs along the shore with beautiful views of the lake.  The trail gets very close to private property in this area, so be sure to follow the blazes to stay on public property.  Towards the end, the trail comes out on a private gravel road and crosses a bridge before ducking back into the woods.  The final stretch of this section runs through the woods to a powerline clearing and then comes out at a gravel road leading to the bidge over Little Lick Creek.  There was a gap in the trail at the end of Section 14, where a burned-out bridge over Little Lick Creek prevented passage from Section 14 to Section 15.


The new bridge was built in late 2011/early 2012 and as of February 2012, crossing Little Lick Creek is possible, so the entire Falls Lake Trail can be hiked without a six-mile detour around this area.


Across the bridge, a long boardwalk traverses shallow water leading to the eastern trailhead for Section 15.

Section 15

Length: 4.2 miles
East Trailhead: Jimmy Rogers Road (36.01323,-78.77771)
West Trailhead: Cheek Road (36.04301,-78.76050)

The trailhead is at the east end of Jimmy Rogers Road, where it turns left to become Little Rogers Road.  There is limited parking here at the intersection.  A short blue-blazed spur trail leads to the main trail, which turns left, where continuing straight leads to the boardwalk and Little Lick Creek Bridge.  Following the main trail leads into the woods for a ways.  In about 1.5 miles, you'll cross a powerline clearing and then back into the woods, shortly after crossing an old gravel road.  Past this point, the trail can be a little tricky to follow as there are a number of other trails and old roads that intersect, so pay close attention to the blazes and brown metal stakes.  The trail skirts the lake shore and you'll start to have some nice views of the lake.  Just over three miles from the start, you'll pass through another powerline clearing and then head back into the woods, coming out in an open field.  Follow the trail around the perimeter of the field where there are nice views of the lake.  The last mile of the trail is in the woods along the lake shore, ending at Cheek Road just before it crosses the lake.

Section 16

Length: 1.0 miles
East Trailhead: Cheek Road (36.04301,-78.76050)
West Trailhead: Hereford Road (36.04486,-78.76656)

The eastern trailhead is along the side of Cheek Road just before the bridge over Falls Lake.  Street parking is available along the side of the road here.  The trail heads into the woods and skirts an open area.  The trail then curves to the left and leads to the western end at Hereford Road.

Section 17

Length: 1.3 miles
East Trailhead: Hereford Road (36.04625,-78.76918)
West Trailhead: Redwood Road (36.05095,-78.77284)

The eastern trailhead is along the side of Hereford Road between Cheek Road and Redwood Road.  Street parking is available along the side of the road on both sides of the bridge.  The trail ducks into the woods after the guard rail and immediately bears left where right goes down to lake level.  Soon, the trail picks up an old road and goes past the remains of old homesteads with some dilapidated old buildings visible.  The area opens up a bit and the trail turns left to follow another old road.  There is a new campsite right here, made possible by the NC Wildlife Resource Commission.  Continuing straight past the campsites, you'll pass a few more dilapidated old structures before the trail comes out on Redwood Road.

Redwood Road Detour

Length: 2.1 miles
East Trailhead: Redwood Road (36.05095,-78.77284)
West Trailhead: Redwood Road (36.05230,-78.77693)

A sinkhole opened in the causeway on Redwood Road between Sections 17 and 18, closing the road.  I think it formed after Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.  For a while, you could still hike the road, though it was closed to vehicular traffic.


Some time in 2017, the road was removed so it was closed to both vehicles and pedestrians.


The road was rebuilt in 2018 and the detour is no longer necessary for hiking the MST.  While the road was closed, Redwood Road Detour was a 2-mile trail blue-blazed detour around the closed causeway. Coming from the east, the trail ducks into the woods across Redwood Road from the Section 17 west trailhead.  Regular blue blazes make the trail easy to follow.  In about a mile, the trail crosses Panther Creek.  The water was too deep to cross, so we had to bushwhack up a ways to find a reasonable way to cross without getting wet.  After crossing, the trail comes turns right to follow an old abandoned railway for just under a mile back to Redwood Road.

Section 18

Length: 0.6 miles
East Trailhead: Redwood Road (36.05230,-78.77693)
West Trailhead: Hickory Hill Boat Ramp (36.05813,-78.77521)

The trailhead is along the side of Redwood Road just before Hickory Hill Boat Ramp.  Street parking is available along the side of the road on both sides of the bridge.  The trail ducks into the woods and comes out at Hickory Hill Boat Ramp in about a half-mile.

Section 19

Length: 0.9 miles
East Trailhead: Hickory Hill Boat Ramp (36.05813,-78.77521)
West Trailhead: East Geer Street (36.06337,-78.78671)

The trailhead is at the Hickory Hill Boat Ramp parking area just off Redwood Road.  Take Redwood Road just past the Section 18 trailhead and turn right into the boat ramp parking area.  The trail section begins at the northwest corner of the parking lot and heads into the woods.  You'll pass a couple of old roadbeds and begin to see an airstrip to the left.  Cross a deep depression that is usually dry; if it's wet you'll have to be creative to find a way across. Towards the end, the trail comes out at a powerline clearing and then approaches East Geer Street at the western trailhead.

Section 20

Length: 1.4 miles
East Trailhead: East Geer Street (36.06337,-78.78671)
West Trailhead: Tom Clark Road (36.06042,-78.80593)

The trailhead is at the end of East Geer Street near I-85 and the small airport.  There is limited street parking at the end of East Geer Street before the gate.  The trail runs from the gate in between and parallel to East Geer Street and I-85 then leads heads down some steps below a billboard and through a tunnel under the interstate and back into the woods.  After a while, the trail runs through a powerline clearing then comes out on Redwood Road.  Turn right and hike along the road to the end at the intersection with Tom Clark Road.

Section 21

Length: 1.0 mile
East Trailhead: Tom Clark Road (36.06042,-78.80593)
West Trailhead: Red Mill Road (36.05931,-78.81688)

The trailhead is at the end of Tom Clark Road where it intersects Redwood Road.  There is limited parking here at the intersection.  The trail follows a gravel road then crosses railroad tracks and runs around the perimeter of Newcombs Lake.  Once around the lake, turn right through a swampy area near a "mountain" of trash.  The trail continues through the swampy area for about a half-mile to Red Mill Road, just before the bridge over Ellerbe Creek.  Right before reaching Red Mill Road, look for an old Fiat car that a tree has fallen on.

Section 22

Length: 4.7 miles
East Trailhead: Red Mill Road (36.06058,-78.81749)
West Trailhead: Red Mill Road (36.08442,-78.82442)

The trailhead is along Red Mill Road at the bridge over Ellerbe Creek, about 1 mile north of I-85.  Street parking is available along the side of the road on both sides of the bridge.  The trail starts on the north side of Ellerbe Creek and runs along the creek right next to an open field.  Shortly after, the trail crosses a small stream.  In years past, this could be a tricky stream crossing to stay dry, but a bridge has been built making it much easier.  The trail then comes out in a powerline clearing and can be difficult to follow, so pay close attention to the blazes.  Back in the woods, the trail continues to follow Ellerbe Creek passing the remains of an old railroad trestle that has mostly collapsed.


About a mile form the trailhead, you'll start to see railroad tracks approaching from right.  The trail passes through a powerline clearing and then runs past an old barn covered in ivy and other abandoned buildings and there is a old washing machine right along the trail.  In about another half-mile, the trail crosses railroad tracks and then curves around with views of the lake to right.  In another half-mile, cross a powerline clearing with the last views of the lake - the trail now begins to follow Eno River upstream.  The trail runs through the woods for a while, eventually coming out in an open field.  Pay attention to the trail stakes to follow the trail across the field and then back into the woods.  The last past of the trail is through a rather swampy section of trail.  A couple small footbridges have been built to more easily cross the difficult parts while staying dry.  The trail ends back at Red Mill Road, about a mile and a half north of the starting point.

Section 23:

Length: 3.9 miles
East Trailhead: Red Mill Road (36.08442,-78.82442)
West Trailhead: Old Oxford Highway (36.07183,-78.86307)

The trailhead is along Red Mill Road, just under 3 miles north of I-85.  There is a very small parking area on the left side of the road at the trailhead.  Alternately, you can park along the side of Red Mill Road or the gravel road across the street from the trailhead.  The trail starts past the gate at the trailhead and follows the old road for about a quarter-mile, then bears left to follow along an old field.  The trail then heads back into the woods through a rather swampy area and passes through a powerline clearing.  Shortly after the powerline clearing, about 1 mile from the trailhead, a spur trail to the left leads to the Ward Family Campground.  After this point, the trail begins to head higher, leading to a bluff overlooking Eno River and then comes to a point where numerous dirt roads come together.  Pay careful attention to the blazes as it's easy to get mixed up in this area.  After walking past a pond, turn right off the roadbed to head back into the woods and soon you'll climb up again and walk along another bluff over the Eno River.  Around 3.5 miles from the trailhead, cross an abandoned railroad track.  If you turn right and follow the tracks a short ways, the tracks cross Eno River on an old bridge.  Just past the railroad tracks is a large drainage pipe.  Shortly, you'll come out to Old Oxford Highway, the western end of the Falls Lake Trail.  The Mountains-to-Sea Trail continues across the road in Penny's Bend Nature Preserve.

Camping:

There are several options available for camping in the area.  Hiking the trail from east to west, the first camping area is along Section 4, about a mile from Possum Track Road.  A blue-blazed spur trail to the right leads under a half-mile to a camping area close to the lake.  There is no fee or registration to camp here.  This area is managed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and its a privilege to camp on their land, so please obey all the rules so that camping will continue to be allowed.

The next place where camping is allowed is at Shinleaf Recreation Area, part of Falls Lake State Recreation Area.  Year-round backpacking sites are available just off Section 8 in Shinleaf.  Reservations are not required, but a fee and permit is required to camp in the state park.

Rolling View Recreation Area, also part of Falls Lake State Recreation, is the next camping spot, located between Section 13 and Section 14.

The next place where is camping is allowed is a small site right off Sectiion 17.  This one is on NC Wildlife Resources Commission land and there is no fee or registration required to camp here.

The last camping area is the Ward Family Campground, about 1 mile west of the Section 23 east trailhead.  This campground is on private property, but the owners are nice enough to allow hikers to camp on their land.  No fee is required, but campers are asked to register in the MST logbook.  Be sure to be respectful and obey all the rules while camping on private property.

Wildlife:

Butner-Falls of Neuse Game Land is managed for wildlife.  Although the primary purpose is for hunting and fishing, it's also great for hiking and photography.

Wildflowers:

A number of beautiful wildflowers bloom along the shores of Falls Lake in the spring.  Trout lilies are one of the first flowers to pop up in late winter and early spring.  Their speckled leaves resemble the patterning of trout and the small flowers are bright yellow.  I'm not sure whether they're Erythronium americanum or Erythronium umbilicatum.


Azure bluets (Houstonia caerulea) are a common early-spring wildflower.  Although their flowers are small, they tend to grow in large clusters.


Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is a less common wildflower that is named for its red sap that resembles blood.


Dwarf crested irises (Iris cristata) are a small, but very pretty species of iris that can be found along Falls Lake.


Another beautiful wildflower species is the atamasco lily (Zephyranthes atamasca), which typically blooms in April.


An uncommon species of wildflower is the Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), named for their white flowers that resemble breeches.


The classification of Hepatica is not agreed upon, so I'm not sure if this is Hepatica nobilis or Anemone hepatica.  Either way, Hepatica is named for its three-lobed leaf that resembles the liver.


Grape hyacinth are not native and their presence indicative of an old homestead at the location.

Mushrooms:

After periods of rain, a lot of mushrooms can be found around Falls Lake, varying in size, shape and color.  Although it's legal to pick mushrooms for personal use in state game lands, this should only be done by those with experience in positively identifying mushrooms.  I'm pretty confident in my identification of the mushrooms in the following pictures, but wouldn't risk my life eating any of these.

These white mushrooms are fairly common - they are in the genus Amanita section Lepidella.  I'm not an expect in mycology and can't identify them down to the species, but suspect that they are A. cokeri or A. ravenelli.


When the mushrooms are young, the cap is more rounded and shaped like a bulb.  As they age, the cap becomes flat and the gills are visible.


Another fairly common species of mushrooms in the Falls Lake area is the American Caesar's Mushroom (Amanita jacksonii).  These mushrooms have a brilliant red-orange color.


Another species of Amanita mushrooms found around the lake is the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria).  Their iconic toadstool is easily recognizable.  These mushrooms are mildly hallucinogenic and poisonous.


Ringless honey mushrooms (Armillaria tabescens) are pathogenic to trees and their mushrooms sprout up from wood or underground roots.


A less common species that I've found in the area is the Violet Webcap (Cortinarius violaceus), a brilliant purple mushroom.


These mushrooms have the deepest purple color when they are young; the color fades as the mushroom ages.


Pearl oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) can be found growing on dead and decaying wood.  These mushrooms are edible and considered a delicacy to some.


Lion's mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) is another edible species of mushroom.