Day Hike Q: Hickory Hill boat ramp to Redwood/Tom Clark roads

High Flying, Fast Driving

Distance: 2.3 miles

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Camping: No
  • Land managers: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Note: Some or all of this trail is on gamelands and hunting is allowed. Learn about local hunting seasons here.
  • Volunteer Task Force Leader: Jeff Brewer,
  • Piggyback trail: No
  • Connecting trails: Occasional feeder trail to lake
  • Falls Lake MST Section No.: 19, 20
  • Trailhead/Access: Hickory Hill Boat Ramp and the elbow of Redwood and Tom Clark roads. Click on map below for specifics.

It would be easy to dismiss this short section as a connector between the more bucolic sections 14 and 16. But this stretch has attributes in its own right, though perhaps not the kind you come to expect on a hiking trail. Like Lake Ridge Airport, home of the Carolina Barnstormers. If Mike’s around and if you have $125 in your day pack, he’ll take you up in his red, open cockpit Waco biplane for a 25-minute spin over Falls Lake and the Duke Campus.

If you don’t have $125, keep hiking and you’ll have another unusual trail opportunity: the chance to hike through a cement culvert under an interstate highway. (Note: The tunnel can be wet and muddy; watch your step.)

Thanks to the dense floodplain forest, it’s not long before you leave the roar of I-85 in your wake.

Geology Highlights: Large rounded (spheroidal) boulders of diabase are common along this stretch of the trail.

Day Hike Q Map

Click on the link below the Google map to open it up in a larger version which includes definition of the map symbols, hiking notes, and an interactive option for driving to the trailheads.

View MST / Falls Lake / Section 15 in a larger map


Finding Your Way

Thanks to Mark Edelstein for these detailed hiking directions.

Finding Your Way (east » west) Cumulative Mileage Mileage Between Points
Trailhead: Hickory Hill boat ramp 0.0 0.0
Cross the remains of a roadbed. 0.2 0.2
On a footbridge, cross a dry creek bed. 0.5 0.5

Cross the remains of a roadbed and soon pass through a large depression.

0.7 0.2

Reach a power line right-of- way by I-85. Turn L to walk along this for a short distance and come to the gated end of East Geer Street. To continue on the trail go L to walk around this barrier.

0.9 0.2
Go to the fence separating I-85 and turn L as the trail follows this right-of-way, soon passing under a billboard. 0.9 0.0
Pass by a stone boundary marker. 1.0 0.1
Pass another stone marker. Soon reach some steps, after going under another billboard, and take these down to access a roadbed. Turn right to walk under the interstate. 1.1 0.1
Turn L off the roadbed and then a quick R into the woods on a footpath. 1.2 0.1
Cross an old, overgrown roadbed and soon cross through a small depression. 1.6 0.4
Cross a small creek on a make-shift log bridge. 1.7 0.28
Walk across a wide power line clearing w a lake view, R. 1.8 0.1

The trail turns R, on a more open path for a short distance, to get closer to the lake.

1.9 0.1
Walk through a small depression. 2.0 0.1

Trailhead: After a short walk along a utility line, reach Redwood Road. Turn R to access the next section, staying straight where Tom Clark Road comes in from the L.

2.3 0.2