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 www.ncparks.gov/jordan-lake-state-recreation-area.

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

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