central nc state parks.

In an effort to knock out parks that are less hiking based and more “recreational” based, Caroline and I headed out for a day of adventures towards Raleigh, NC.

The goal was to hit three North Carolina State Parks:

  1. Falls Lake State Recreation Area
  2. William B. Umstead State Park
  3. Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

In the order above, we completed about a 2-3 hour round trip drive from Winston and back.

I want to note that numbers 1 & 3, are both lakes. They do in fact have hiking trails rated from easy to moderate, but the main attraction at both are the LAKE. Activities can include Boating, Fishing, & Swimming. You can rent canoes, and kayaks also. The cost to enter both lake parks is $7/per vehicle. I didn’t hike at either, just wandered around trying to prevent Caroline from jumping in the water, and took some photos.

First stop: Falls Lake State Recreation Area


At Falls Lake you can take a little detour upon entering to the right, head down a dirt road, and find yourself at the Rollingview Marina. It is here you can rent boats, kayaks, canoes, etc. The Marina is not part of the State Park, so you have to come out and go through the park gate in order to officially enter. Rental prices vary, but here’s the website if you’re interested:  http://www.rollingviewmarina.com/.


Once I paid the $7 fee and entered into the State Park Gates, I headed to the swimming area. There’s a lot to do here, so just read the signs carefully as you drive to see where you need to go.

Once to the swimming area, it was about 10am, and the place was absolutely empty. It was really nice! I took a few snaps, and Caroline and I enjoyed lunch by the car in the shade as the weather was approaching a nice 85ish degrees at this point.


With plenty of picnic areas and room to enjoy a cookout, Falls Lake seems to be a wonderful place to take your kids and family for a nice day outside.

Website: https://www.ncparks.gov/falls-lake-state-recreation-area/trails.

And off to the next park we go!

Second Stop: William B. Umstead State Park

With plenty of hiking trails, and even bridle trails, William B. Umstead Park is packed and loaded with plenty of activities to entice your adventurous side.


After a look at the map and considering how hot the day was, I decided to take a nice stroll through a shaded trail that goes along the river. The Pott’s Branch Trail it was, rated east in difficulty and 1.30M round-trip.


Blazed with an orange diamond, Caroline was anxious and ready to move her little legs and run around. I was surprised that this trail was not very crowded and we passed maybe 10 people total during the whole time here. I’m assuming the heat of July keeps people inside, but since we had a water source, Caroline was all about it. Once down to the river, she was in.


The trail continues along the river and eventually comes back through the forest going uphill only slightly and back to the parking lot. The trail itself was well maintained and I was very satisfied with this easy hike.


Website: https://www.ncparks.gov/william-b-umstead-state-park.

A quick snack and some gulps of water — it was now about noon and we headed off to the last stop of the day.

Third Stop: Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

CROWDED. That is all.


A lady had a Chihuahua in her lap and it growled at Caroline, there was barely any room to walk, no open picnic tables, and the swimming area was packed full.


I was able to grab these two snaps which by no means shows the multitude of people. This park has different entrances/boat access points so be sure to research before coming to make sure you get to the right place. If you’re coming to swim, be aware that during the summer, space will be scarce. We didn’t stay long at all, and just decided to hit the road towards home. I personally don’t like big crowds of people on my adventures so I want to point out that my personal opinion should not go as a negative statement towards this park.

Website: https://www.ncparks.gov/jordan-lake-state-recreation-area.

And that’s that. We made it home safe and sound, cooked a large meal, and enjoyed some R&R before the dreadful MONDAY hit.

There are 3 more Central Parks to visit, and I’ll be getting to them real soon.
So stay tuned!





  1. I love the idea of blogging about all of the North Carolina State Parks. This post gives a great overview of the three parks you covered. We’ve camped in North Carolina several times in our RV but have never camped in a state park there. There were never any in the areas we wanted to visit. Have fun as you travel around the state!

    Liked by 1 person

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