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: 4.8 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 game lands and hunting is allowed. Learn about local hunting seasons here.
  • Volunteer Task Force Leader: Jeff Brewer,
  • 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 22 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 / Day Hike S in a larger mapDisclaimer

Finding Your Way

Thanks to Mark Edelstein for these detailed hiking directions.

Finding Your Way (east » west) Mileage
Trailhead: From Red Mill Rd. just north of Ellerbe Creek, head east across a chain blocking vehicular access to a field. Just before the field, go slightly right as the trail enters the woods. 0.0
Use a footbridge to cross a small creek. 0.2
Come out onto a wide power-line crossing as the trail stays slightly left to pass to the right of an orange marker. Walk by the tower to start on a gravel road. The roadbed turns right as the trail re-enters woods. A view of Ellerbe Creek, right, awaits as the MST goes by the remains of a railroad trestle. 0.5
Cross a small creek on a footbridge. 0.7
Reach a view of the lake with a functioning trestle on the other side. This is near the point where Ellerbe Creek flows into the lake. 0.9
Start to walk within view of the railroad tracks and the lake. Cross under a power line and eventually go past some abandoned buildings on the left. 1.3
The path narrows to pass between two large trees. 1.6
Ascend slightly to cross tracks of an old spur line, then descend to walk along the edge of a field for a short distance, at one point using a boardwalk to traverse a wet section. 1.8
The trail crosses an overgrown roadbed. 2.2
Cross under a power line by the edge of the lake. You are leaving Falls Lake proper and will now be traveling along the Eno River, one of the chief sources for the lake. 2.5
Rock-hop across a small creek. 2.7
Walk through a field, then later turn right into the woods. 2.9
By the edge of the river, traverse another field. 3.1
After crossing a small creek, the trail goes under a small utility line and enters a field at a trail marker. To get through this expanse, head straight across and then turn right to follow the field’s border. 3.4
By another trail post, leave the field and head slightly right to walk through a clump of woods and go through another field. 3.6
After walking along a tributary of the Eno River, cross the edge of a small pond as the trail traverses an area of wetlands. 3.8
Hop across the first of 2 deep, wide water runs. 4.4
Trailhead: Turn right on Red Mill Rd. Go about 100 feet along the shoulder, then turn left to cross into a small parking area with a signboard. 4.8