Jordan Lake is a State Recreation Area just about half an hour south of Durham in North Carolina. Jordan Lake is a man-made reservoir with lots of camping, hiking, swimming, boating, and fishing. We recently did some “primitive” camping there and I thought I’d share a bit about the experience.
We chose to stay in the New Hope Overlook for 2 reasons: first, these are the least expensive sites at Jordan Lake, and second, the longest hiking train at Jordan Lake is the “New Hope Trail”, which meanders through 5.4 miles of the New Hope Overlook. We wanted to do some hiking the next day, and this seemed like a reasonable distance.
About cost: “primitive, hike-in” camping (meaning you have to walk 100 yards from you car to the camping area, and running water is restricted to the bathroom area) costs only $13/night. I still think that’s expensive, but current prices (as of May 2010) are $20/site for a drive-in spot with water, or $25/night to add an electricity hookup. Anyway, these “primitive” sites are about as close as you can get to backpacking at Jordan Lake (read: there is no backpacking here, despite use of that term on some websites).
The sites were fine, not too far from the parking lot (though you will have walk, so don’t bring the kitchen sink). The best thing about it was that the place was practically empty. I talked to the ranger who said that New Hope doesn’t see too much action–most campers stick to the more popular “Poplar Point,” with drive-up sites. That’s great for those of us seeking seclusion. We had the place to ourselves during a weekend in May–there was 1 other car in the parking lot but we never saw the people, they must have been down at the other end of the path. There are 15 or so sites total.
If you’re planning to buy a bundle of firewood for $5, it might be tough–we didn’t get in until around 8pm and the ranger station was closed. You’re not allowed to collect wood, but if you bring your own or buy some there (and pack it in), there are clean fire pits at each site.
The hiking at New Hope was fine. We did the 5.4 mile (longer) loop, which went by quickly. There is a hill or two, but mostly it’s reasonably flat. We didn’t encounter any other hikers. The whole hike took us about 2 hours and 15 minutes at a leisurely pace. If you’re looking for a decent hike that’s more than just a mile or two, I think this is a good bet. I’ve had a hard time finding longer hikes like this at nearby state parks (including other parts of Jordan Lake).
The bottom line
- Camping in New Hope Overlook is peaceful, private, cheaper, and not very busy.
- You have to hike your stuff in 100 yards to half a mile (depending on the site you choose).
- New Hope Overlook trail is a good 5.4 mile hike with lots of lake views (or 2.7 miles on a shorter loop).
- Official Site - http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/jord/main.php