Jordan Lake State Park
Camping & Hiking,  North Carolina

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area – Apex, NC

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area is a massive park in the North Carolina parks system. In the middle of the state, it’s about 30 minutes west of Raleigh. With several large campgrounds spread along the over 21 square mile lake, there’s plenty of water access points and water activities. We liked the spaced out camp sites, trails with lake views, and unique craft brewery nearby.

Getting There

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area is located just under 3 hours southwest of Richmond and is an easy drive on I-85. The park is close to Raleigh, 2 hours from Charlotte, and 3 hours from Roanoke. Generally there is no entrance fee for day use; holidays and long weekends may differ. We stayed at the Parker’s Creek Campground right off Route 64. This makes the campground very convenient, but also meant there was some road noise from the bridge over the lake. Overall the noise didn’t bother us, just something to note.


This park is light on trails with only 15 miles of them. The lake is the big attraction and focus here. We drove to New Hope Overlook and did the blue trail there. Besides finding the trail to be longer than the 2.7 miles listed, we enjoyed this one. The trail was empty and well maintained. There is a spur to lookout over the lake (very pretty!) but most of the trail is wooded without views. In May there were a few mountain-laurels in bloom. On the morning we left, we followed the trail to the beach across from our loop entrance to get Gimli a little exercise. It was a nice, short trail. Gimli couldn’t go on the beach, but it seemed like a pleasant day use area for kids, swimming, and picnicking.


We stayed at Site 004 in Loop 1. This loop has 57 sites, and is split down the middle. As always, I try to pick a spot on the outside of a loop to get a more secluded spot. That strategy worked great here. Our spot backed up to the woods and there were trees between us and our neighbors on either side. I had a lovely afternoon reading by our fire feeling like I was the only person in the woods.

The bathhouse on this side of the loop was out of order (posted on the website, so not a surprise). The bathhouse on the other side of the loop saw more traffic as a result. It was also in desperate need of some updates/repair with stall doors coming apart. Bring a swim suit if you plan to shower, as the shower doors are not tall enough to shower privately.

Planning a Camping Trip? See our State Park Reviews


Our favorite part of this trip was the local brewery we hit. BMC Brewing (about 10 minutes from the Parker’s Creek Campground) was the perfect spot for a post hike beer flight. They had a few picnic tables with umbrellas outside that were dog friendly. Had we not had Gimli, we would have been inside out of the heat and hung out for longer. The brewery is located in The Plant, a quirky business park area, that also would have been fun to explore more.

BMC had a large selection of beers in a wide variety of styles. While I love IPAs sometimes it’s nice to hit a craft brewery and have more than hop heavy beers to choose from. It was pretty hot, so my flight consisted solely of lighter styles. Their kolsch (Mendel’s Dominant Recessive) was excellent – we ended up bringing some home with us. I also enjoyed the Mexican lager (Mexia) and ale (GRIM Ale) with rosemary and ginger.

On top of great beer, they make cookies! BMC stands for “Bite My Cookies”. Cookies are baked with spent grain from the brewing process and are pretty massive. That fire I mentioned reading by earlier? The pumpkin cookie I got was extra awesome then.

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