Falls Lake Railroad trestle — South end

By Will Cook and Les Todd

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 excellent when water levels are low. The main drawback is relative inaccessability — you need to haul your scope a half 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 to exit 183 (Redwood Road), which when coming from Durham is the last exit before crossing Falls Lake. After taking the exit, turn right and go about 1/2 mile until the road takes a sharp left turn. Park here.

Address for Google Maps: 5590 Redwood Rd, Durham, NC

Coordinates for Google Earth: 36 03 37.5 N, 78 48 21.5 W

Where to go: Take a well-worn fisherman's path that leads through the hedge on the north end of this small parking area. Shortly you'll come to a single set of railroad tracks. Turn right and follow the tracks north about 1/2 mile until you approach a trestle. The lake (or mud flat if water levels are low) is on your right. You can cross this short trestle if you're adventurous and continue for another mile along the tracks to a much longer railroad trestle. The penalty for crossing the second trestle may be death by freight train, so we wouldn't recommend it. To get to the north end of the bridge, see Railroad trestle — north.

Facilities: None

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 cwcook@duke.edu

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