Camping at Falls Lake

This weekend, I took my almost-eight-year-old son for his first camping trip.  Some long-time family friends of ours have kids that are close in age to our children. We gathered the two families for a dinner including hot dogs roasted over a roaring fire, followed up with the always-popular s’mores. A bit before the 8pm park-closing, the wives took the younger children home, leaving my friend and I and our two sons to camp for the night.

If you have kids, then you know we didn’t get much sleep, but we did have a great adventure that we hope our boys will always remember.

13708 New Light Road, Wake Forest, NC

We stayed at Shinleaf, part of the Falls Lake State Recreation Area. Shinleaf offers about 45 hike-in camping sites that include a fire pit and a good-sized picnic table. We had a bit of trouble finding a spot for my friend’s enormous (sleeps 6!) tent, but settled on a site that was close to the lake and offered a bit of privacy. Camping is available at Shinleaf from mid-March through October. Other camps at Falls Lake offer year-round camping. One of the things that worked in our favor is that Shinleaf doesn’t charge a per-car entrance fee like some of the other Falls Lake Campgrounds.

On this warm Fall day, we had the camp pretty much to ourselves. I figure there were only about 5 sites in use. Reservations can be made up until 2 days before your visit by phone or online. Otherwise, sites are first-come. You can pick an unoccupied site, drop your tent on it and put your $18/night fee in the collection-box near the parking lot.

The camp at Shinleaf features 3 restroom buildings. The main one has showers, too. The two smaller restrooms (one of which was convenient to our camp-site) were closed. It appears that they’re only open during the busy parts of the season. Shinleaf is located a bit north of Blue Jay Point and can be accessed by the NC Moutains-to-Sea trail.

The only down-side of camping at Shinleaf is that it’s in the flight path for RDU. Thankfully, the frequency of flights drops a bit by late evening.

After doing a bit of prep for breakfast (chocolate chip pancakes!), we walked down to the lake. We were treated to a visit by one of the lakes bald eagles, out hunting for it’s breakfast.