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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


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.


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: 2.2 mi (loop)
Difficulty: Easy

The 2.2-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.

Starting from the north entrance, off Ray Road, there is a short paved greenway trail that leads to the main loop trail around the lake.  Heading down this trail, almost immediately to the left there is an unpaved trail that leads to Ray Road, just south of the park entrance.  Continuing straight, the trail leads to the lake after a couple short hills.  During periods of rain, this spur trail to the lake frequently floods and can be difficult to cross.  When the trail reaches the lake, it splits to go in either direction around the lake.  This marshy section of land between here and the community center is undeveloped, so its a great spot to observe wildlife.  A lot of ducks and geese congregate here as people frequently feed them.  Occasionally, deer can be seen grazing and may approach the boardwalks if people are offering food.  

                    Curious Deer Investigating the People at Lake Lynn

Turning right to follow the loop in the counterclockwise direction, the trail follows boardwalks around as it curves to the left.  There is a short spur trail that leads to Glenharden Drive to the right as the trail departs from the undeveloped Lake Lynn Park and begins to pass subdivisions and apartment complexes.  Despite the development, there is still a lot of wildlife living in the shallow waters of the coves.  Exposed logs sticking out of the water are a favorite spot for painted turtles and yellow-bellied sliders to sun themselves when the weather is warm.  Continuing along the trail, it switches from paved greenway to boardwalks along the western shore of the lake as it ducks in and out of coves between developments.  At the southern end, the trail turns left to go over the dam.  Stairs lead down to the south parking lot off Lynn road and the Hare Snipe Creek Trail, part of the Capital Area Greenway, continues along the sidewalk on Lynn Road towards Leesville Road.  Continuing across the dam, the trail turns left, heading north along the eastern shore of the lake and continues back around to complete the loop.  Paved greenway trail interspersed with boardwalks is a continuing theme along the eastern shore of the lake as well.

            Lake Lynn Trail Crosses the Dam at the South End of the Lake


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).


Ducks and geese congregate around the boardwalks, especially mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) and Canada geese (Branta canadensis).  Additionally, there are a number of feral ducks and geese as well as what I believe are hybrids.  People used to feed them, but that has since been prohibited and the populations of birds in the lake has gone down to a more reasonable level.  My favorite time to visit is in the spring when the ducklings and goslings have hatched and can be seen with their parents.

                    Mallard Ducklings are a Common Sight in the Spring

                            Canada Goslings Pecking around in Grassy Area

Besides the ducks and geese, several other bird species call Lake Lynn home, including many songbirds such as cardinals, sparrows, and chickadees that live among the mixed hardwood forest surround the lake.  And the marshy headwaters and coves provide a great habitat for waterfowl including great blue herons, green herons, and cormorants.  The Lake Lynn Trail is a great spot for birding.  I've even seen a eared grebe here, which is an uncommon sight in the area.

Great Blue Heron
                                                 Great Blue Heron

                            Eared Grebe, an Uncommon Visitor to Lake Lynn

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.

           A Green Heron Looks for his 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.

                        A Great Egret Hunts Fish in the Shallow Headwaters

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.

                                            Double-Crested Cormorant

Birds of Prey

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.

                            A Red-Shouldered Hawk 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

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.


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.

                   Northern Water Snake

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.

                    A painted turtle climbs onto a log to sun himself

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!

            A turtle balancing on another to capture some of the sun's warmth

There are even a few snapping turtles in the lake, who occasionally make themselves known when people are feeding the ducks and geese.

Snapping Turtle
                                                Snapping Turtle

In the wooded areas around the lake, chipmunks, rabbits, and squirrels can be seen frolicking among the trees and even the occasional beaver can be found along the shore.

External Links:

City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation website: http://www.raleighnc.gov/home/content/PRecRecreation/Articles/LakeLynnCommunityCenter.html