The leaves are starting to change, so in case you don't have the time or ability to head to Western NC, don't forget that we have a beautiful lake to explore fall colors in our own backyard. Those of us in North Raleigh don't have to travel far to hook up with the many entrances to the park's trails, but even if you live in downtown Raleigh, it's only a 20 - 30 minute drive. I take one of my three dogs there every week for a hearty hike and swim (and sometimes my other two dogs get to come along). Every time we go, we pass other hikers, families, dogs, and the occasional park ranger who are friendly and happy to be outside.
Falls Lake was created in 1981 and encompasses 12,000 acres and meanders 28 miles through Wake, Durham, and Granville counties. It's not safe for (human) swimming, but boats are allowed, and there are several ramps where you can launch your boat. When my kids were younger, their absolute favorite summer camp was Camp Blazing Trails which is run through the YMCA at Blue Jay Point. It's a half day camp full of adventures in the woods, canoeing, and time at the sprawling park with a playground and open fields for running around.
When I take my dog this week, I suspect to see more yellow and red leaves than last week, and I can't wait to take it all in!