A dozen summers ago I tried to hike a section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail off Redwood Road in Raleigh and was quickly thwarted. About 20 yards in, the trail disappeared into a sea of summer growth, of saplings and grasses and ground covers all prospering in the heat of the season. I was bummed, because I’d hiked this stretch, Day-Hike Section P, of the MST several times, but, apparently, every time in winter, when the less hardy species had gone into cold storage. The problem in summer: no one hiked this stretch, in large part because not many folks knew it was there.
Today, this increasingly popular Falls Lake section of the MST, which runs 2.9 miles from the Hickory Hill Boat Ramp to Cheek Road — gets hiked just enough in summer that the trail is easy to follow. Easy to hike, too: this is one of the flatter sections of the trail along the lake. The trail hugs the mellow contour of the land as it switches from pine forest (mostly upland) to hardwoods closer to the lake. Mellow hiking through successional forest with the occasional view of the lake makes for some fast hiking. One caveat: the trail twice traces the shoulder of two-lane roads — Redwood and Hereford — for about 0.2 miles apiece: There’s plenty of room on the shoulder and not a lot of traffic, but it’s a good thing to know.
Also good to know is that even during a time when it seems everyone has discovered hiking, this stretch of trail still gets hiked “just enough.” I’ve hiked here half a dozen times since March and have seen maybe a half dozen other hikers.
A great hiking escape when you’re trying to escape other hikers.
Check out our video of Day-Hike Section P of the MST along Falls Lake, then check out our GetHiking! Guide to Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Falls Lake (DH-P) at our GetGoingNC guidebook store. Enter code ARP59369 by Wednesday, July 15, and receive the guide for free.