Falls Lake Day Hikes

Day Hike S: Red Mill Road (north of Ellerbe Creek) to Red Mill Road (south of the Eno River)

RMR2 (Red Mill Road — Twice!)

Distance: 5.0 miles

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Camping: No
  • Land managers: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Enginners. 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, jdbrewer104@gmail.com
  • Piggyback trail: No
  • Connecting trails: No, but old roadbeds crossing the trail may give that impression
  • Falls Lake MST Section No.: 22
  • Trailhead/Access: Red Mill Road (twice). Click on map for specifics.

Section 17 encounters several meadows.

A stretch of trail with considerable — and multiple — personality. On both ends, you’ll find retired lowland agricultural land. Some of that land now supports small meadows and hay fields, some is slowly being taken over by bottomland forest.

Midway on this stretch the trail climbs a bluff that, especially in winter, offers good views of Falls Lake, albeit not the wide stretches popular with speed boats. Rather, here you’ll find shallow sections that during summer may be dry mud flats, while in winter give the impression of a coastal swamp. Here, the Eno, the Flat and the Little rivers, along with Ellerbe Creek, end their runs in often indistinct ways.

Sprinkled in between you’ll find remnants of the region’s human past in the form of the occasional rusted cast-offs and a long-abandoned barn. You’ll also find the occasional natural curiosity: a climb through a pine and cedar stand, for instance.

One caution: the trail begins and ends on Red Mill Road, which you must cross to get to parking. Take note of traffic before making a move.

Geology Highlights: Geological sights of this trail section include a natural levee along Ellerbe Creek and vistas of upper Falls Lake.  Compare the wide, flat and shallow lake here with the narrow, hilly, rocky and deeper lower Falls Lake east of Highway 50 in Wake County.  Q:  Why the difference?  A:  The Jonesboro fault.

Day Hike S 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 17 in a larger mapDisclaimer

Finding Your Way

Thanks to Mark Edelstein for these detailed hiking directions.

Finding Your Way (east » west) Cumulative Mileage Mileage Between Points
Trailhead: Red Mill Road, just north of Ellerbe Creek 0.0 0.0
Cross a small creek. 0.2 0.2

Come out onto a wide power line crossing. Stay slightly L to pass to the R of an orange marker and walk under the tower to start on a graveled road.

0.5 0.3

Soon, to the R of the next tower, turn R onto a path and quickly turn sharp L off of this as the trail reenters the woods. A view of Ellerbee Creek, R, awaits. Soon, the trail goes by the remains of a railroad trestle, R.

0.6 0.1
Rock-hop a small creek. 0.7 0.1

A view of Falls Lake is R, with a functioning trestle on the other side. This is near the point that Ellerbee Creek flows into it.

0.9 0.2

Start to walk within view of the railroad tracks and the lake, R. Soon cross a power line.

1.3 0.4
Pass by several abandoned buildings, L. 1.4 0.1
The footpath narrows to pass between 2 large trees. 1.8 0.4

Ascend slightly to cross tracks of an old spur line and descend to walk along the edge of a field for a short distance.

2.0 0.2
Come out to a lake view, R. 2.2 0.2
The trail crosses an old, overgrown roadbed. 2.4 0.2

Cross a power line, by the edge of the lake, R. You are leaving Falls Lake proper and will now be traveling along the route of the Eno River, one of the chief sources for the lake.

2.7 0.3
Hop across a small creek (may be dry). 2.9 0.2
Walk through a field and soon turn R into the woods. 3.1 0.2
By the edge of the river, R, cross through another field. 3.3 0.2
Another small creek is crossed. 3.5 0.2

Cross a small utility line and enter a field by a carsonite marker. To get across this huge open expanse, head R on a slight diagonal, approximately N x NW.

3.6 0.1

By another trail marker, leave the field and turn slightly R to walk through a clump of woods between 2 fields.

3.8 0.2

Walk along a tributary of the Eno River and soon cross the edge of a small pond. You are now traveling through an area of wetlands.

4.1 0.3
Trailhead, gravel parking lot (3 cars tops) 5.0 0.9
Start exploring North Carolina – one step at a time.