We are sharing tales from the MST as hikers are pursuing the 40 Hike Challenge.
This week we are exploring the Great Day Hike #23 in Segment 10, Fall Line Geology: Raven Ridge Road to Falls Lake Dam Spillway, hiked by current FMST board member Lynne Bresler and her husband, Mike.
This 3.5-mile, moderate hike includes the easternmost portion of the Falls Lake Trail that follows nearly the entire southern shore of Falls Lake. Only coming close to roads and houses a few times along its length, the hike offers surprising solitude for its location in the suburbs of Raleigh. Because of its fall-line geology, it also offers a surprising, for the Piedmont, amount of elevation change, with a third-of-a-mile descent dropping more than 100 feet to the dam trailhead. The remainder of the trail is more characteristic of the rest of the area, dipping in and out of coves and spending quality time along the lake. This trail section is noted for its large rock exposures of Falls leucogneiss, an unusual rock unit that has geological and historical significance for this part of North Carolina, as well as for abundant geological evidence of an ancient fault zone. (Click to see maps of the geology – east and overall.)
As Lynne puts it, “Hike 23 of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on the southernmost point of the Falls Lake shoreline eastward to the dam and back is a pleasant trek for a late August day. Sounds of locusts and birds overhead obscure the encroaching neighborhoods of north Raleigh. The woodland tree canopy and meandering waterways offer a cool respite to a hot summer day. The distinct topography of ridge lines and drainage ravens results from the unique geology of the Crabtree and Raleigh Terrane. The underlying metamorphic gneiss rocks and well documented faults produced a series of steep banked slopes and distinctive boulder outcrops. The areas around the visitor’s center and dam offer scenic views of Falls Lake, the earthen dam, spillway, and Neuse River. A fall or winter hike should provide less obscured views of the lake but you’ll miss the abundance of wildflowers and butterflies that are prevalent at the meadows by the utility easements. This trail is quite popular with families, dog walkers, trail runners, and outdoor enthusiasts. Parking at the Tailrace Fishing area is a hot commodity on weekends so plan to arrive early to walk from east to west and back. Allot a couple of hours for this seven mile round trip hike to have plenty of time to absorb the serenity of these woods.”