The Casual Kayaker   -    Location reports of my flatwater kayaking

(B.Everett) Jordan Lake, White Oak Creek marsh at NC 751, April 7, 2012

Jordan Lake, White Oak Creek marsh at NC 751
April 7, 2012

Attribute Rating - (view rating system scale)
Scenic Quality 3.5
Wildlife 3.5
Water Quality 3.5
Quietude 4
Boating Traffic 4

Parking - Bell's access: 35°45'8.85"N   79° 0'27.75"W
Kayak put-in location: 35°45'8.20"N   79 0'25.13"W
On Farrington Point Road, 3.5 miles south of Farrington Point or 1.2 miles north of US 64, turn into the lake access located between the bridge and Bell's Baptist Church. The upper parking area is large enough to maneuver a trailer, but the lower parking lot is not. In the southeast corner of the upper lot there is a wide graveled path to the lower parking area and launch point for easy porting. There is no boat ramp here, as this location was set up for fishing. At the east end of the lower parking area is suitable access to the water for kayak launch. It's been reported there was a sign indicating no boat access here, and at least one kayaker reported getting a citation for putting in here in the past. I checked the bulletin board and all the signs around the parking lot and cannot find any sign or notice against launching kayaks here. We have seen other kayakers put in here and so far we have not been bothered by anyone.

Suitable launch area at east end of Bell's lower parking lot.

General Destination point:
35°45'17.48"N    78°58'8.31"W - White Oak Creek marsh area near Hwy. 751

Download the .kmz file for this location report (for Google Earth) - TheCasualKayaker_JordanLake_Bell's-WhiteOakCreek_4-7-12

Download the combined .kmz file for all location reports -

If you don't have Google earth, you can still view the track on Google earth in this window.

B. Everett Jordan Lake is located in the northeastern corner of Chatham County, North Carolina. Access to this part of the expansive manmade lake is easy via NC 751 or Farrington Point Road from highway US 64 west of Apex, NC. Other ways to reach it are on NC 751 from I-40 south of Durham, NC, and from Chapel Hill, NC via Mount Carmel Church Road off US 501 at the intersection of NC 54, NC 86 and US 501. Mt. Carmel Church Road turns into Farrington Point Road which intersects US 64. (Note that there is a village close-by spelled "Fearrington" Village, but the road and boating access is spelled "Farrington". Don't let that cause confusion when mapping or planning.)

This was our second trip to this marshy area. The first trip was back in the summer when the lake was 2-1/2 feet lower (214), and this area was only a damp spot. We couldn't get close to the marsh. On this trip however, the lake was at 216.5 (6 inches above "full pool") and we could paddle all the way east to where it was dammed by beavers. The ".kmz" file (for Google Earth) for this trip marks the easternmost terminus of our paddling where we reached the beaver dam at three points. But I get ahead of myself.

The weather was just about perfect - sunny with a light breeze off and on (upper 40's early, warming into the 60's later). We finally got launched about 10:45 - a bit later than planned. It seems there was a plethora of cyclists this day - more than the usual gaggle peddling the highways around Jordan Lake. We were only a mile from the access when we were stopped in a line of traffic held up by a sheriff deputy while he directed cyclists from an intersecting road onto Farrington Point Road. We sat there for at least 15 minutes while cyclists trickled onto the highway (some going one way and some going the other). Eventually we were let through and continued on until we reached the parking area and slowed to a stop, waiting for oncoming traffic before making a left turn into the lot. While making the left turn, some fool cyclist coming up behind me simply kept coming without slowing, and began passing me in the left lane at full speed while I was trying to turn. The whole time he was screaming at ME to watch out. He never did stop, zipped on around me nearly hitting me, and acting like it was MY fault! I don't know whether he had no brains, no brakes, or didn't know how to use the brakes, or simply thought he owned the road and didn't have to obey traffic laws like everyone else. What a fine start to our otherwise nice day of paddling.

I'll add a word of caution here - watch out for the cyclists around Jordan Lake, as you will almost always find them in nice weather. While most of them keep to the edge of the road so they can be safely passed when it's clear, some of them think they own the highway instead of sharing it with everyone else.

Once we launched, we paddled east along the northern shoreline. We took our time, in no rush, watching for birds as usual. We saw Osprey, Cormorants, gulls, and several Great Blue Herons (which are almost always present here). One of them was calm enough to let me get a half decent photo of it up in a pine tree.

There were a few fishermen in boats all along the way, most of whom were anchored and fishing. Boat traffic was minimal, with only a couple of skiers during the day, but they kept their distance and we had few wakes to deal with. It was a 2.25 mile paddle to reach the marsh.

As we approached we came upon three Lesser Scaup who hung around long enough for me to get a photo suitable to identify what they were, though it's nothing all that great.

They didn't stay long though, so we paddled northeast a short way among the brush. I stopped to try out a new anchor rig and take a couple of photos, so the wife explored a little farther. She came back and said she heard running water at one point. I thought that was hardly likely in a marsh. I put away the anchor and we moved on farther southward. Then we turned east, following an open area to see how far we could go.

Before long we came upon the ducks once more. I took a couple more photos, and tried getting some shots as they flew off. I was still shooting into the sun, which did not make me such a happy camper, though the shots came out half-way passable anyway.

We wove our way between the brush and trees a bit farther eastward until I realized to my surprise I was hearing running water too.

Looking around I spotted beyond the bushes the glint of sunlight on a small cascade of water. We paddled over to it to find water spilling over what was obviously a beaver dam, with a "slide" just a few feet away. The water level on the eastern side of the dam was a good 12-16 inches higher than where we were on the lake side.

It was a little after noon at this point, and the sound of trickling water and the cool shade we found was so pleasant and relaxing that we decided to hang out next to the dam and have our lunch.

When we finished our lunch we turned around and backtracked through the brush to the open area, then paddled south a short distance until once again we heard the trickle of water. We followed it east to find another spot where water spilled over the beaver dam near the south shoreline of the lake. After investigating that location, we headed back across the lake, as the afternoon was wearing on, and it was a long paddle back.

By now we'd been paddling for well over three hours, and the breeze had picked up, fighting us on our way back, so we soon pulled up on shore and got out to stretch our legs for about ten minutes. Then we climbed in again and paddled on, hugging closer to the shoreline to minimize the battle with the breeze and choppier water. About half-way back to the launch point we spotted an Osprey ahead of us diving a couple times, and then it land in a tree right at the shoreline. I got out my camera with the longest lens hoping to get a couple of shots. As we came closer it stayed in the tree, eating its catch, seeming not bothered by our slow approach. I clicked off a couple of shots as we came up behind it and to my surprise it stayed put.

Hoping against hope it would continue to stay calm, I paddled ahead trying to make my way against the wind and get in front of the Osprey. Finally I thought I was far enough ahead, so I turned the kayak to see that he was actually still there. I pulled out the camera again and started firing away, floating practically right under the Osprey. But after just four quick shots the camera quit --- CARD FULL!! AAARGH. I had failed to delete the images from my last two outings, and now the wind was quickly pushing me closer. I frantically deleted several images and grabbed the paddles to backstroke away, as by then I was too close under it for a good shot. But by the time I had backed away far enough, it tired of my antics and decided to fly off to eat in peace somewhere else.

The photos were better than I expected, though not as sharp as I'd hoped. It was a rare opportunity and I blew it to a great extent because I'd not cleared the memory card. Live and learn I guess. At least I got a couple of half-decent shots out of it, though I know I can do better. I have to say though, bird photography from a kayak in open water is really difficult. It's hard enough on solid ground, but a drifting, bobbing, spinning kayak is probably the worst choice ever. Of course, without the kayak, I wouldn't have had the opportunity at all.

Once I finished kicking myself, we paddled the rest of the way back and loaded everything up. All in all it was a nice day. Boat traffic had been much less than we had expected for a Saturday on Easter weekend, and the water level was sufficient for us to reach our goal. I even came back with a couple of decent photos.

I'll add a couple of last minute notes here about the .kmz file - (1) I've included the GPS track of this trip in the .kmz file, which appears to show the launch point on Google Earth as being in the woods. Google Earth is a bit off on its satellite image alignment. The track actually does start at the shoreline. (2) I added the location of the beaver dam by drawing in a blue line.

"If you're not paddling, you're not getting anywhere."

Next article ›››    (B.Everett) Jordan Lake, Vista Point - north, April 14, 2012

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When I first began kayaking I found a most helpful blog by Tom Haynie that aided me greatly in finding and choosing new flatwater locations. His blog was infinitely more detailed and useful than anything I found on kayaking forums. I quickly resolved to share my own impressions of locations I've visited, including details I believe to be important and helpful, in hopes of providing practical information to others. I sincerely hope you find something useful and helpful here. (For more location reports visit Tom's blog at

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