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Take a trip to Jordan Lake


By Lydia Pankratz / Special to the Times-News

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, one of the closest lakes to Burlington that allow swimming, is an awesome place to soak up the last bit of summer. With four sandy, tree-lined beaches open to day visitors — Ebenezer Church, Seaforth, Parker’s Creek and White Oak — and almost 14,000 acres of water, the Triangle area state park offers something for everyone.

While the park offers camping and hiking, many just visit the park to swim.

“The temperature in the water feels great and the lake is calm,” writes Trish of the website Pretty in the Peak.

The beaches offer plenty of sun, but if you want to avoid it you can easily retreat to the trees where you will still be close to the water. The Seaforth swimming area is especially good for this.

“We loved the fact that there were picnic tables in the shade as well as a picnic shelter for escaping from the heat,” reports the blog, Stir Crazy Moms’ Guide to Durham.

The lake floor slopes gently so that you can gradually wade out to deep water for swimming.

“I love that they’ve added a sandy embankment to this lake, so you can have a taste of a beach excursion without the commute commitment,” a Yelp user from Durham writes.

There are no lifeguards but there are racks of life jackets on the beaches for swimmers to use.

The swimming areas are well-maintained.

“Seaforth, a very popular beach especially on the weekends, was very clean when we were there on a recent Monday,” writes a reviewer on the WRAL-TV website.

But you can find negative comments on Trip Advisor about bugs and bathooms. (“… for being a state park, the bathrooms leave a lot of room for improvement!” “I don’t know that I have ever used so much repellant in my life! Don’t forget the bug spray!”)

Still, the overall experience for most people is positive.

One park visitor wrote on Yelp: “I’ve only been to Jordan Lake once, and the visit was brief. But in that time I saw great picnic facilities with grills, restrooms, a beach where you can go swimming in the water, a playground and volleyball courts.”

Entrance fees are collected from Memorial Day until Labor Day, on weekends, and also on a few holidays in April, May and September, according to the North Carolina State Parks website.

But after today, access to Jordan Lake will be free on weekdays, making it a budget-friendly place to cool off.

If you go:

What: Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

Where: 280 State Park Road, Apex. From Burlington, take N.C. Highway 87 S to U.S. 64 E and follow the signs for Jordan Lake. The trip to Jordan Lake from Burlington takes about 70 minutes.

Hours for day visitors: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. May through August; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. September, October, March and April; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. November through February (closed Christmas Day).

Cost: Weekday fee from Memorial Day through Labor Day: $6 a car, $15 for a van or bus. Year ’round weekend fee: $7 a car and $20 for a van or bus. Fees also on other holidays. Annual pass is $60 and includes unlimited access to Falls, Kerr and Jordan lakes.

Details: See the North Carolina State Parks website at

Lydia Pankratz is a homeschooled high school senior and a Teens & 20s writer.

Fall in love with Saxapahaw

By Jakob S. Miller / Times-News correspondent

Haw River in Saxapahaw Jakob Miller

Saxapahaw, in southern Alamance County, is somewhat a treasure off the beaten path. Situated on the Haw River, this quaint town is home to almost 2,000 people, many of whom live in the old millhouses. Although small, the town has real character that draws people in. Here are the top things to do in Saxapahaw:

1. Stop by the Saxapahaw General Store. Visiting the store, which is located at 1735 Saxapahaw Bethlehem Church Road, is a must if you are in the area, as this is where most of the commerce takes place year-round. Not only does it stock glass bottles of sometimes hard-to-find sodas, handmade bookmarks and essential oils, it also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can grab a delicious bite to eat and even do a little grocery shopping, making for a great trip out.

2. Walk the Haw River Trail. Saxapahaw is a great place to go for a walk or hike and get some fresh air. An access point to the trail in Saxapahaw is off Saxapahaw Bethlehem Church Road. You get to experience the view and sounds of the Haw River right under the cover of the many trees, allowing for both exercise and relaxation.

3. Go to the butcher shop. Left Bank Butchery, located at 1729 Saxapahaw Bethlehem Church Road, is in one of the former textile mills and has beef, fish, poultry and pork to purchase. In addition it also sells bread and cheese if you are looking for a good, guilty-pleasure meal.

4. Go canoeing and kayaking. The Haw River is a great place to kayak. Or grab a friend and canoe up and down the water and look at stunningly beautiful greenery and rock formations. Both activities provide exercise and relaxation. You can rent a canoe at The Haw River Canoe and Kayak Co., 6079 Swepsonville Saxapahaw Road.

These are among the best of the many activities available in Saxapahaw. It is surely worth the time to drive over there on Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. You might just fall in love.

Jakob S. Miller is a junior at Southern Alamance High School and a Teens & 20s writer.

The Great American Eclipse

By Alley Morris / Times-News correspondent

The Aug. 21 solar eclipse was outstanding to watch, and it provided an amazing opportunity to witness one of many examples of God’s splendor.

The last solar eclipse that was visible from coast to coast in the United States occurred almost 100 years ago on June 8, 1918.

At the point of totality in Columbia, S.C., you could hear crickets as the moon covered the sun.

Jupiter was seen during the total eclipse.

“I felt scared; then, when it wasn’t as dark, I felt relieved,” said Brittney Whitfield of Columbia.

In Alamance County, there was approximately 93 percent coverage of the sun.

B. Brown of Burlington was one of many county residents who viewed the eclipse.

“I was amazed at the glow behind the moon and the solar ring around the moon,” Brown said.

Laci Warren of Burlington also was impressed.

“It was amazing because it was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me,” Warren said.

Shana Wall of Graham also was happy to see it.

“I honestly didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I didn’t realize how awesome it would be to see the moon passing the sun.”

The next total eclipse to pass through the United States will occur on April 8, 2024.

The amazing sights viewed by millions during the eclipse will be remembered for years to come.

Alley Morris is an eighth-grade homeschooler and a Teens & 20s correspondent.

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