By Will Cook
Overview: The railroad causeway at Falls Lake features panoramic views of the western part of the lake, great for scoping for ducks, gulls, herons and other water birds. Land birding along the brushy edges of the causeway is excellent, with good numbers of Prothonotary Warblers and Orchard Orioles in spring and summer. Shorebirding can be good when water levels are low. The main drawback is relative inaccessability — you need to haul your scope a mile along the railroad tracks.
When the water level at Falls Lake drops [current report], this becomes a great area to look for shorebirds. Normal pool level for Falls Lake is 252'. Mudflats here at the shallow western end of the lake start developing when the level is below 249'. Will Suitt starts to become good around 247'.
Getting there: take I-85 across the lake and get off at the second exit (exit 186B). Continue on Roycroft Road back across I-85. In about 1 mile, you'll see a RR track appear on the left, very close to the road. As soon as you see this, turn left into a little driveway, cross the tracks, and park in the tiny gravel lot (large enough for about 3 cars).
Coordinates for Google Earth/Google Maps:
parking area: 36 05 37.9 N, 78 46 47.25 W
RR bridge: 36 04 42.5 N, 78 47 30.5 W
Where to go: You can either follow the gated road or the RR tracks 1 mile to the lake (they both come out in the same spot). Walk all the way to the trestle over the Neuse River for the best scoping. You can cross the trestle if you wish, but the penalty may be arrest for trespassing or death by freight train, so I wouldn't recommend it. To get to the south end of the bridge, see Railroad trestle south. On the DeLorme map, this spot in on page 40, A-1, near the hamlet of Cozart.
When to visit: Any time of year, though heat is an issue in the summer. During deer gun season (generally Nov.-Dec.), this area is best avoided except on Sundays.
Revised 12/28/08 email@example.com
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