By Will Cook
Overview: A nice woodland trail leads to a small platform with a good view of the north-central Jordan Lake. Also known as the Eagle Platform, since Bald Eagles are often seen here.
Getting there: On NC 751 about a mile south of the 751 causeway. From I-40, take NC 751 (exit 274) south for about 7 miles. From US 64, take NC 751 north about 5 miles. The entrance is a small gravel driveway opposite a convenience store, marked by a small brown park sign. The driveway leads a short distance to the parking lot.
Coordinates for Google Earth/Maps: 35.81958, -78.9666
Where to go: The main loop trail to the platform starts at a gate at the left side of the parking lot. Follow the main trail, bearing right at the first fork. In about 15 minutes, you should reach a sign telling you about eagles and a sightings logbook. The platform, built and maintained by New Hope Audubon, is a short distance further down the trail. When lake levels are high, you may not be able to reach the platform. Along the way there are several side trails, each of which eventually returns to the main trail. Continue on the loop trail past the platform. You'll pass through some nice deciduous forest, and in a mile or less come back to the first fork (continue straight to the parking lot). A second area to explore is the weedy field next to the parking lot. Follow the trail behind the gate at the right end of the parking lot. You can follow this trail, and its fork to the right, to the lake, though once you're past the field, the birding is not as good as on the main trail. Somewhere in this area is reputed to be a good place to see frolicking naked men, so consider yourself warned... The parking lot is often full of cars even when there's nobody on the trail to the platform.
What to look for: The field is good for sparrows in winter. The main trail is good for migrants, as well as the common deciduous forest breeders. In particular, the low woods before and after the platform can be great for migrant flocks in fall. The platform is a good spot to quietly sit and watch birds fly by. Bald Eagles are fairly common in summer, though just about any spot at Jordan can be good for eagles. When water levels are low in summer and fall, you might find some interesting waders - such as the large flock of White Ibis one year - or shorebirds. Two ultra-rarities have been seen here: a Ruff (9/1/1988) and an American White Pelican (11/3 - 11/14/1993).
When to visit: Fall through Spring. Since this is part of the New Hope Gamelands, you might want to avoid the area during deer gun season (late fall-early winter), except on Sundays.
Revised 12/29/08 firstname.lastname@example.org
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