Day Hike R: Elbow of Redwood and Tom Clark Roads to Red Mill Road (South of Ellerbe Creek)

The Swamp Connection

Distance: 0.9 mile

  • 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 game lands and hunting is allowed. Learn about local hunting seasons here.
  • Volunteer Task Force Leader: Jeff Brewer,
  • Piggyback trail: No.
  • Connecting trails: Cross trails connect to lake, wetlands.
  • Falls Lake MST Section No.: 21.
  • Trailhead/Access: Intersection of Redwood and Tom Clark Roads and Red Mill Road. See map below for specifics.

A lake arises from the swamp.

A section that’s less than a mile long?

Well … yes. This mostly swampy stretch defies connection to Section 20, which is about 50 yards down Redwood Road, or Section 22, which begins about a tenth of a mile up Red Mill Road, at times a busy Red Mill Road that has a limited shoulder and a tight bridge over Ellerbe Creek.

Instead, Section 21 should be savored on its own. After circling a small lake 0.3 miles in, the trail descends into a lowland that stays wet following a good rain. Hiked at dusk, it’s particularly enticing, the boggy effect heightened by an intimate beaver dam. There’s also an alarming manmade mountain just south of the trail that rises out of nowhere – a soil dump site on private property. The trail concludes at Red Mill Road, just shy of which there’s a curious collection of memorabilia (including an exercise bike) from the region’s not-so-distant past.

If you continue on to parking or the next hike, be cautious. The connection along Red Mill Road is along a narrow shoulder with a tight bridge passage over Ellerbe Creek.

Geology Highlights: What’s not exactly rock but not exactly soil? It’s completely weathered and softened rock, and it’s called saprolite. You can see some saprolite, derived from hard diabase, in an embankment near the railroad tracks along this trail section.

For detailed hiking directions and parking information, download the Segment 10 guide from our Trail Guides page, using the “Primary Trailheads” section to pinpoint the location. You can also visualize the route on our interactive map.