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

The Swamp Connection

Distance: 0.9 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: 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 not even a mile long?

Well … yes. This mostly swampy stretch defies connection to Section 15, which is about 50 yards down Redwood Road, or Section 17, 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 16 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 Section 18, 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.

Day Hike R 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 16 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: Tom Clark & Redwood roads 0.0 0.0
Trail quickly encounters old roadbed; go L 25 yards 25 yards
Cross railroad tracks and soon turn R, then L on a more grassy roadbed. 0.1 0.1
By a power line, reach a pond and go L to walk along its’ edge. 0.3 0.2
On a boardwalk and footbridge, cross a wet area. Note the “hill”, part of a construction project, to the L. 0.4 0.1
Trailhead: Red Mill Road 0.9 0.5