Beaver Dam Lake is often considered part of Falls Lake, a large reservoir north of Raleigh and east of Durham. However, Beaver Dam is actually its own reservoir, and a small dam separates it from Falls Lake. (This Falls Lake is a different lake than the one along the Yadkin River near Albemarle). It is the main water supply for the city of Raleigh, so many efforts are made to keep the water clean, such as prohibiting housing around the shores. Falls is also the source of the Neuse River, and it is named for a series of waterfalls and rapids that were flooded when the dam was built.
There are many road crossings and boat ramps around Falls Lake where you can put in a kayak or canoe. However, there is often a lot of traffic on Falls, and Beaver Dam is the best place to paddle because no motor boats are allowed there.
There is a state park/recreation area at Beaver Dam, which can be reached by NC Highway 50 (Creedmore Road) about 4-5 miles north of NC 98. Although there are no campgrounds at the Beaver Dam park, there is a boat ramp, picnic areas, restrooms, and a swimming beach. There are several campgrounds at other locations around Falls Lake.
From the Beaver Dam boat ramp, you can paddle south about 1 mile to the dam. But the best route is to head north about 3 miles upstream, where the lake passes under a road (Old Weaver Rd). Past Old Weaver, the lake turns into a marshy area with a main channel that weaves among water lilies and other aquatic plants.
To the east is a forested area that has become a rookery for herons, ospreys and bald eagles. There are many large birds nesting here, and it is a spectacular area to observe wildlife. Binoculars and/or a camera with telephoto lens are helpful, but you can see a lot with your plain eyes. I have seen a number of ospreys and bald eagles diving to catch fish and then carrying them off in their talons in this area.
Beaver Dam park has a boat ramp, picnic areas, restrooms and swimming beach. The adjoining Falls Lake has a number of campgrounds where you can stay over night.
Entrance fee charged in warmer months (about $3-5).
Take NC Highway 50 north from Raleigh. Entrance to Beaver Dam park is on the right, about 5 miles north of NC 98.
From Durham, take NC 98 east to NC 50, then go north.
N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Falls Lake map provided at entrance station.