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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 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.