Long Trails of the Triangle: Falls Lake portion of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail
Distance: 60 miles
Location: Durham/Wake counties
Surface: Natural, singletrack
Family friendliness: A great escape into the wild close to home.
Vibe: A 60-mile hiking trail in an urban area? Yes, long escapes are possible without a long drive if you live in the Triangle. But don’t let the distance scare you: The Falls Lake portion of the MST is accessible in 18 day hikes ranging in distance from under a mile to nearly 7. And while the trail plays footsie with neighborhoods backing up to Falls Lake, it does a remarkable job of skirting encroaching civilization. Views of the lake are common as the trail dips in and out of coves. You’ll pass through forests of beech, perennially green stretches of holly and mountain laurel, and stands of maturing Piedmont hardwood forest. The trail is well maintained (even in the overgrown days of summer) and well-marked; no worries about getting lost here.
More info: Visit the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail website for detailed descriptions, with maps, of the 18 trail’s 18 day hikes: