Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lake Michael Park- Mebane

I stumbled on Lake Michael Park through an Internet search. I was looking for public swimming in Orange County, and the Orange County Parks & Rec departments lists this as a place to swim. They lie. You most definitely are not allowed to swim in Lake Michael. However, don't let that deter you from a visit. Lake Michael Park has a lot to offer!

C and I tried 3 times to come to Lake Michael Park before we met with success. Note the hours of this place, and check online (link below) before you go to make sure you really know the hours. They are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and open late on Sundays.

When C and I finally did make it here, we had a blast.

From downtown Hillsborough, this is about 20 minutes. You will feel like you are driving out into the middle of nowhere, but it is an easy drive down 70.

I will say that the Parks & Rec department in Mebane is not nearly as organized or well-run as what you might see in Chapel Hill, Durham or Raleigh. Trail maps aren't very helpful, the hours are limited, the trails aren't well groomed, the website isn't fantastic, and the staff is very friendly but not too terribly helpful. But this is a great resource in Mebane that I am happy to see protected. I think that as more visitors head out to this large, beautiful lake, the County will pour more resources into it.

One great thing for families at this park is the boat rentals. You can take a Pontoon Boat ride (you can not pilot a rental pontoon here). You can rent a Jon Boat (think large, flatter canoe). You can also rent Paddle Boats. You can launch your own boat off the boat ramp. Prices are:
  • $1 per person for a Pontoon Boat ride
  • $4 to rent a Jon Boat
  • $1 per person for a paddle boat, children under 6 are free (1 hour limit)
  • $4 to launch your own boat
At Lake Michael Park there are two very shaded, new, and fun playgrounds with mulch ground cover. There are bucket swings at the lot furthest back. There are ample picnic benches in the shade, grills, and also a couple of picnic shelters. You can rent these picnic shelters for $10.

Lake Michael Park has great fishing. This lake is well-stocked from what the local fishermen told me. They don't rent equipment here and you do need a fishing license in order to fish. In NC there are strict rules on what fish you can keep and what you must throw back. But this is a 59-acre lake, and the fishing looked successful and peaceful. You can cast your line off of the bank or either of the two piers.

Lake Michael Park has two walking trails. Don't bother using the trail maps, they are pretty useless. But the trails are marked. They are at the back of the park, with a large sign pointing the way. The trails start off an easy pea gravel, but once you get past the last spot to fish, it becomes very rough. You will need a carrier for this.

By the way, we were there late afternoon on a weekday. I thought we were going to witness a high school after-school party, but it turns out that the local cross country team uses Lake Michael Park trails for practice. So no debauchery here.

Two separate restroom facilities and ample parking.
No entry fee.

Lake Michael Park 7300 Lebanon Road


Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday from 7 am to 7 pm (or dark)

Sunday 1 pm to 7 pm (or dark)

April to end of October

Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday from 6 am to 8 pm (or dark)

Sunday 1 pm to 8 pm (or dark)

Closed Tuesday and Wednesday


At June 19, 2011 at 9:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info! It is Fathers day, and my daughter loves to fish, so it looks like we will visit!


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