Add University Lake to the many ways the University of North Carolina has enhanced the livability of Chapel Hill.

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.

More info

Maps & Access

Getting there from downtown Chapel Hill
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 10 minutes from downtown Chapel Hill
Time to complete: 2 hours
Address: 130 University Lake Road
City: Chapel Hill
State: N.C.
Zip: 27516
Latitude: 35.5383
Longitude: 79.0557