Lake Mattamuskeet and Falls Lake: Worth Visiting and Protecting
By Liz Houde, Education and Outreach Coordinator
The Tar-Pamlico River basin contains the state’s largest natural lake, Lake Mattamuskeet. Located west of the North Carolina’s Outer Banks near the center of Hyde County, Lake Mattamuskeet contains 40,000 acres is 18 miles long and 6 miles wide.
With its open water, fresh water marshes, swamp and forested areas, the refuge that surrounds the lake includes 12 different natural habitat types. Lake Mattamuskett, and the land surrounding it provides diverse habitats for native plants and animals and the location also fosters numerous opportunities for outdoor exploration and recreation for humans. Though Lake Mattamuskeet is known for its migrating bird populations it’s also home for native animals including white-tailed deer, black bears, blue crabs and threatened and endangered species such as the peregrine falcon and bald eagle.
Lake Mattamuskeet is an important stopover area for over 240 species of migrating birds along the Atlantic coast. Thousands of tundra swans, geese and shore birds, and ducks stop here during their spring and winter migrations. Though the migration peaks in December, Lake Mattamuskeet is home to migrating flocks of waterfowl from November to March.
If you’re looking for a quiet, scenic place for boating, fishing or birding, Lake Mattamuskeet, is a place to visit. Fishing boats and motors are allowed on Lake Mattamuskeet from March 1 through November 1, while airboats, sailboats, jet skis, and windboards are prohibited.
The Neuse River basin contains, Falls Lake, the main source of drinking water for the city of Raleigh. Falls Lake is a 12,410 acre reservoir located in Durham, Wake, and Granville counties. Falls Lakes is the source of drinking water for over half a million people in Raleigh and other municipalities in eastern Wake County. As the population increases, demand for drinking water from Falls Lake also increases.
In addition to being an important source of drinking water, Falls Lake is also an ecological habitat for many fish and terrestrial animals. Home to bass, blue gill, catfish, and crappie, Falls Lake attracts many anglers annually.
Located just under 20 miles from downtown Raleigh, Falls Lake State Recreation Area surrounds the lake and is a great day trip or weekend getaway from the city. Falls Lake is the place to visit, if you’re looking for hiking or biking trails, a place to go camping, swimming, boating or fishing.