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Lake Lynn

Lake Lynn is a 75-acre City of Raleigh Park in the northwestern part of the city near Glenwood Avenue; the trail is also part of the Capital Area Greenway.  The lake is surrounded by a 2.2-mile trail of paved greenway and wooden boardwalks.  In addition to the lake and trail, there is a community center with a playground and athletic fields.

Crabtree Watershed Dam #22b was constructed in 1976 to dam the Hare Snipe Creek for flood control.  The building of the dam created Lake Lynn, which is now used for both flood control and recreation.

Contact Information:

7921 Ray Road
Raleigh, NC 27613

Phone: (919) 870-2911
Fax: (919) 870-2912

Directions: 

There are two entrances to Lake Lynn - the north entrance off Ray Road northwest of Howard Road (7921 Ray Road Raleigh, NC 27613) and the south entrance off Lynn Road between Ray Road and Leesville Road. Both have paved parking lots with ample room for visitors.  The north entrance has the most parking and has direct access to the community center with restrooms and the athletic fields and playground.  There is also limited street parking at approximately 7609 Glenharden Dr with a short access path to the lake.  Additionally, there are also numerous paths to enter from the surrounding subdivisions and apartment complexes.  Use the map below to generate customized directions to the parking lots at either entrance.

Map:

Community Center:

The community center, built in 1996, is one of the newer recreation centers and provides various spaces available for rent to the public.  It has a gymnasium with two basketball courts, a meeting room, a dance studio, and an art room.  All of these are available to the public for rent.  There is also a weight room with a monthly membership fee.  Visit the park's website for information about rentals.  The community center also has public restrooms and serves other community functions, such as an early voting site.  Outside amenities include tennis courts, a baseball field and batting cage, a playground, bocce courts, and a picnic area.

Lake Lynn Trail:

Length: 1.9 mi (loop)

The 2-mile greenway loop around Lake Lynn is a very popular trail for walking and a variety of other exercise activities, including jogging, cycling, rollerblading and dog-walking (on a leash no more than 6 feet).  The main trail around the lake includes sections that are paved greenway and wooden boardwalks traversing shallow areas of the lake.


The trail begins at the dam by the south parking lot and crosses the dam.  Continuing across the dam, the trail turns left, heading north along the eastern shore of the lake.  Boardwalks lead across small coves with apartment complexes and neighborhoods just past the lake.  As the trail reaches the north end of the lake, going straight and right leads to the community center and north parking lot.  An unpaved spur to the right leads under a quarter-mile to Ray Road.  The main trail turns left to follow a long boardwalk across the north end of the lake in the shallow headwaters.  This is a good area to spot wildlife.  Ducks, geese, wading birds, turtles, snakes and even deer can be seen in this area.  Please don't feed the wildlife.

Deer

The trail turns left to head south along the western shore of the lake.  After the first boardwalk, a short connector to the right leads to Glenharden Drive.  The trail continues to pass houses and apartments, winding its way in and out of coves along the lake.  The trail ends back at the dam.  Hare Snipe Creek Trail, part of the Capital Area Greenway, continues along Lynn and Leesville Roads.  See my Capital Area Greenway page for more information about this trail.

Wildlife:

Lake Lynn provides habitat for a number of different species of birds and wildlife and so the boardwalks that skirt the many coves along the lake provide an excellent opportunity for wildlife viewing.  The lake is also home to many fish and fishing along the shore is a popular activity (with a valid NC Fishing License).

Birds

Ducks and geese are the most common bird seen at Lake Lynn, especially mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) and Canada geese (Branta canadensis).  My favorite time to visit is in the spring when the ducklings and goslings have hatched and can be seen with their parents.  Please don't feed them.




Another common resident of Lake Lynn is the great blue heron (Ardea herodias), often seen hunting fish in the shallow waters.


Green herons (Butorides virescens) live at Lake Lynn, though they are somewhat more elusive than the more conspicuous great blue heron.  Despite their common name, they are not green in color, more of a greyish blue.  They can usually be seen in shallow, marshy waters, hunting for fish.  They may even use "bait", such as insects or bread to attract their next meal.


Recently, I've been seeing a large white heron-like wading bird around the lake, but hadn't been able to get close enough for a picture.  Finally, I caught him hunting fish in the shallow headwaters of the lake and was able to get a closer look to determine that he's a great egret (Ardea alba) and get a picture.


In the early spring, I often see a double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) who likes to perch on branches sticking up out of the water.  In past years, I had only seen one, but in 2014, there were at least four cormorants at the lake.  These birds do not have waterproof feathers, so they stretch their wings out to dry them off in the sun.  Branches sticking out of the shallow water provide a perfect perch for them.

Occasionally, birds of prey can be found along shoreline, like this red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus).  Usually, they're too quick for a picture, but this bird was busy eating a small snake.


Here's another picture of a red-shouldered hawk perched above the lake.


Owls live in the trees around the lake, but these nocturnal raptors are more often heard than seen.  One evening, I heard a very vocal pair and was able to get a picture of this barred owl (Strix varia).


Song birds are common in the woods surrounding the lake.  The best time to spot them is in the winter when the leaves are down and views are less obstructed. Here's a picture of a beautiful Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), whose red color really pops against the winter background.

Woodpeckers can occasionally be seen around the lake.  I found this cute little downy woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) pecking on a tree near the lake.  Downy woodpeckers are the smallest woodpeckers in North America.

Reptiles

Snakes can sometimes be seen along the trail and near the shore.  Northern water snakes (Nerodia sipedon) are one of the more common species of snake in the area.  They typically bask along stumps and branches along the shore, waiting for fish, frogs, and other prey.


Copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix) may be rarely found around the lake.  As these snakes are venomous, use caution if you see one, particularly with children or pets.  Although they are poisonous, copperheads are not aggressive towards humans and will only bite if provoked.


Many turtles also live in the lake.  Most common are the painted turtles and yellow-bellied sliders who are often seen basking in the sun on logs.


On the first couple warm days after a cold spell, there seem to be more turtles than logs and branches available for them to lay on.  Sometimes the turtles will crawl on top of each other to get to a sunny spot!


There are even a few snapping turtles in the lake, who occasionally make themselves known.

Snapping Turtle

External Links:

City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation website: https://www.raleighnc.gov/parks/content/ParksRec/Articles/Parks/LakeLynn.html