by Crystal Cockman

I was given a few days off this week for working a couple of weekends, so I took the opportunity one day to paddle a new location with a friend. We went to Lake Lucas in Asheboro. Lake Lucas is under the authority of the City of Asheboro and is operated by Asheboro Cultural and Recreation Services. It is a beautiful lake and much smaller than Lake Reese, which I paddled for the first time earlier this summer. In about 3 hours, we were able to paddle around pretty much the entire lake at Lake Lucas.

Lake Lucas is located at 3158 Old Lexington Road in Asheboro. It is open March 1 through November 15 from 7:00am to sunset, but is closed on Wednesdays. From November 16 through the end of February, it is open 8:00am to 5:00pm, and is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays. To launch a kayak here, there is a daily canoe/kayak launch fee of $3.50 for nonresidents and $2.50 for city residents with a rec card. We brought our own kayaks for this trip, but if you don’t have your own, you can also rent canoes and kayaks at this location at a rate of $6 for a day for a city resident with a rec card and $10.00 for a non-resident.

We arrived at the lake about 10:30am on Thursday September 6th. We began our paddle by following alongside the right bank of the lake in the shade. It wasn’t too long before we saw the first of many great blue herons. We were pleasantly surprised at how close they allowed us to get, and we were able to get some great pictures of them as a result. We also saw cormorants and great egrets, as well as one little green heron, a few geese, and a kingfisher. We had a brief glimpse each of an osprey, a pileated woodpecker, and a red-tailed hawk. The highlight of the trip though had to be three bald eagle sightings. They were flying by too fast for a good picture though.

There were also lots of plants blooming on the edges of the lake. The first flower we spotted was bright red cardinal flower. We also saw purple lobelia, pink meadow beauty, orange jewelweed (also known as touch-me-not), and pink agalinis. We paddled all the way up to the headwaters of the lake where it narrowed and became a creek. There were some yellow sunflowers blooming back there. This was a really neat area to paddle, with lots of low hanging limbs and vegetation, and someone had installed a wood duck box here. Back Creek feeds the lake, but below the dam the creek becomes Caraway Creek.

This was a trip full of wildlife experiences. Even where there wasn’t wildlife, there were signs of them being there. We pulled over in the shade for a water break and saw an old snag that looked like a woodpecker condo, full of nesting holes. There were several nests in trees along the edges of the lake as well, which likely belonged to gray squirrels. All along the lake shore were trees that showed signs of beaver chewing on them, with some short stumps of trees that had been cut down entirely by beavers.

My first trip to Lake Lucas was a great experience and I know it won’t be my last. A convenient 10-minute drive from my house, I will likely make paddling here a regular occurrence. Check it out the next time you have a day off – I promise it will be worth the effort.