University Lake – Paddling
Constructed by the university in 1932, the lake is Chapel Hill’s main source of drinking water and a nice recreational amenity. At 213 acres it’s a good size for short trips, and the types of boats allowed is regulated by one simple criteria: can you haul it in on the roof of your car or the bed of your pickup? There’s a main body of water and because the lake is filled by numerous tributaries — including Morgan Creek, Phils Creek, Neville Creek, Price Creek and Pritchards Mill Creek — there are lots of lake fingers to explore, lots of wildlife to see. A quick escape on the outskirts of town.
There’s some fine print associated with University Lake. Fees vary depending upon whether you live in Orange County: If you do live in Orange, it’s $4.50 to rent a canoe, $3.50 to launch your own boat, if you live elsewhere it’s $8 to rent, $7 to launch your own craft. Rentals include canoes and flat-bottom craft. Hours for recreation are Friday-Sunday, 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The lake is seasonal, open roughly from late March to mid-November.
Getting there from downtown Chapel Hill
Distance: 10 minutes from downtown Chapel Hill
Time to complete: 2 hours
Address: 130 University Lake Road
City: Chapel Hill