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Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

Jordan Lake at sunrise. Photo by Morgan Cartier Weston

Just a short drive from Chapel Hill and Durham, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area provides a gorgeous respite from a busy week. With its lush native foliage, placid waters and multiple access points, it makes a great place to camp in the summer or spend a Saturday afternoon on a boat or on the beach.

Here’s the inside scoop on our favorite features:

  • Camping: With more than 1,000 campsites to choose from, groups of all sizes are welcome to set up a tent (or park an RV, at some sites) for a weekend of fun in the sun. Just be sure to reserve your space in advance–sites can go quickly in the summer.
  • Bird Watching: During the summer months, Jordan Lake is the best place on the East Coast to see bald eagles in the United States. Thanks to the ample fish population, many other avian species call the lake home as well–the park offers bird watching programs, or you can watch on your own.
  • Hiking Trails: A range of trails and difficulty levels are available from different access points. A half-mile children’s nature trail off the Parker’s Creek access offers the smallest outdoor enthusiasts a place to stroll and identify flora and fauna. For those inclined to more challenging hikes, head to New Hope Overlook and take the red loop trail for over five miles of beautiful views.
  • Swimming: There are seven swim beaches. For a small fee per car, pack a picnic and bring the whole family to play in the “surf” and sand without having to drive to the coast.
  • Boat Access: A fishing destination for many, Jordan Lake is also a great place to bring your kayak for a peaceful paddle or your boat and tube for adrenaline seekers. Each access point has a boat launch, and kayaks can be launched from many waterfront campsites as well.

Now you’re ready–just grab your bug spray, towels and sunscreen and enjoy Jordan Lake!