Old Hope Valley Farm Road

By Will Cook

Overview: This is one of the best spots at Jordan Lake for migrant warblers in spring and fall, ducks in fall and winter, and Whip-poor-wills in spring and summer. When water level is low it is one of the best areas in the Piedmont of North Carolina for seeing shorebirds. See New Hope Creek mudflats and Morgan Creek mudflats for more information on shorebirding.

Getting there: From US 64, take Farrington Road (1008) north 3.8 miles, turn right on Old Farrington Road. After 2.1 miles on Old Farrington, turn right onto Old Hope Valley Farm Road. This is the first right after the Orange County line. Park at the end of OHVF Rd., being careful not to block the gate. Coming from the NC 54 at I-40 interchange, take Farrington Road (the road by the Hardee's and Texaco) south 2.0 miles, turn left on Old Farrington Road, follow this for 1.6 miles, and turn left on Old Hope Valley Farm Road. Note: the road sign for Old Hope Valley Road was missing as of September 2008.

Coordinates for Google Earth/Maps: 35 51 37 N, 78 59 26.25 W

Where to go: This area is a large peninsula between the New Hope Creek and Morgan Creek arms of Jordan Lake. When conditions are good, there are more places to go here than you can be fully covered in a full day of birding! The main axis is the gated off north-south road, which extends for a mile to a second gate, and perhaps another mile beyond that. The secondary axis is the huge powerline cut, which runs east-west and crosses the main axis near the main gate. You can follow the powerline trail east (that's left if you're coming from the gate) to an old railroad grade, which juts out into the New Hope Creek arm of the lake, known as the New Hope Creek mudflats when the water level is low. Hike out to the end of the grade for good scanning of ducks or shorebirds. The railroad grade is the tertiary axis, which runs northeast-southwest, intersecting both the powerline and the main axis. You can follow the grade back to the main road, but it's a very long way and tends to be unproductive. To get to the Morgan Creek side of the peninsula, start from the main gate, walk south for a mile past the second gate. A few hundred yards past that gate, the road forks -- follow the right fork, which is the old RR grade. Follow the RR grade trail until you see a trail going off to the right. Follow that until you can see the lake through the woods. Walk to the water and if the water is low, follow the shoreline to the right until you get to the mudflats. There are several other side trails that may be worthy of exploration.

What to look for: Brown-headed Nuthatches are common and Pine Warblers abundant in the pine woods. Good numbers of Prairie Warblers and Yellow-breasted Chats nest here. Migrant passerines seem more common here than most places. The declining Bobwhite are easier to find here than elsewhere in the Triangle. Whip-poor-wills are common near the main gate. The shallow waters are good for dabbling ducks in winter and egrets in summer. When the lake level drops below 214 feet above sea level, shorebirds can be abundant [current lake report].

Facilities: None. Bring plenty of water!

When to visit: Good in spring, fall, and winter, as well as late summer if there are mudflats. During deer gun season it's best to avoid the area except on Sundays.

Revised 12/29/2008 cwcook@duke.edu

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