AEG - Carolinas Section Fall 2014 Field Trip

March 15, 2014


Beginning Note:

The trip has several objectives: 1) to introduce participants to the surprisingly diverse geology that can be seen in this area; 2) to introduce them to the on-line trail guide and its potential usefulness; 3) to acquaint them with one way their smart phones and tablets may be used to great advantage in the field; and 4) to get some healthful exercise in a very nice wooded setting within the Triangle area.

With the above conveyed, while we will see representative rock types on the trail, some of the exposures on the trail will be small, and there will be stretches of trail that will not have any rock exposure.    

***Please prepare you mobile device before the trip - See instructions below.


A Geological Hike at Falls Lake

This field trip will involve a hike along two separate stretches of the Falls Lake Trail (FLT), which runs along the southern shore of Falls Lake in Wake and Durham Counties.  The FLT is a 60-mile portion of the 1,000-mile long Mountains to the Sea Trail.  The FLT is divided into 23 sections, beginning at the Falls Lake Dam at the east and heading west to Penny's Bend on the Eno River.

We will hike Section 1 of the FLT in the morning, examining crystalline rocks of the Raleigh and Crabtree terranes.  We will eat our bag lunches at Blue Jay Point County Park, which is located on Section 6 of the FLT, within the Falls Lake terrane.  After lunch, we will hike Section 13 of the FLT, and there we will examine exposures of Triassic sedimentary rocks of the Deep River Mesozoic basin, as well as Jurassic diabase.

The trip will use an on-line Geologic Guide to the FLT, written at an introductory level, aimed at the interested non-scientist. 


Participants will park at a large shopping center close to the Falls Lake Dam, where they will get on a bus.  The bus will depart from the shopping center at 9:00 a.m. and deliver participants to the trailhead of FLT Section 1.  In the morning, we will hike Section 1, which is 3.5 miles in length, stopping at several points of interest along the way to discuss the geology.  The bus will pick us up at the end of Section 1 along Raven Ridge Road.  We will ride to Blue Jay Point County Park in FLT Section 6 and eat lunch.  After lunch the bus will deliver us to the beginning of FLT Section 13.  We will hike Section 13, 3.2 miles in length.  The bus will retrieve us at the end of Section 13, which is in Rolling View Recreation Area, and return us to our cars.

We estimate the morning hike and afternoon hike will each run between 2.5 and 3 hours, so the trip should be completed around 4:00 p.m. 


Trail Guide and Maps

There will be no printed guidebook or handouts; instead the guide will be viewed on personal mobile devices (each participant will supply their own device) using downloadable maps and/or an on-line guide.  Without a compatible mobile device, pertinent pages from the on-line guide can be printed and brought along instead.


How do I prepare my mobile device for the field trip?

Iphone, Ipad, and Android Devices

Iphone, Ipad, and Android devices can use the free App from Avenza to view GeoPDF maps of the geologic trail guide.  To download the App on your device visit:

After you have downloaded the App, copy the following URL links in the table and paste them into the “Import map” window of the App.  See link for quick directions: App Instructions

The advantage of taking the time to set up your Iphone/Ipad or Andriod device with the Avenza App is that you will be able to track your location in real time as you view the guide!

Map Thumb Image URL to copy and paste into "Import Map" using Avenza App

Simple Regional Geologic Map


Simple regional map

Falls Lake Trail Section 1 map


FLT section 1-3 geology

Falls Lake Trail Section 6 map showing Blue Jay Point (Lunch Stop)


Trail Section 6 Thumb

Falls Lake Trail Section 13 map


FLT Section 11-13 map

Draft - Eastern Portion of Falls Lake Trail Geologic Map with Unit Descriptions


East Half FLT map

Draft - Western Portion of Falls Lake Trail Geologic Map with Unit Descriptions


West Half FLT map


The text to the trail guides can be accessed via the Falls Lake Trail - A Geologic Guide Website. A data connection will be required on the trail. If using a tablet device without internet access, you can print the web pages before trip. To access the text see:

Falls Lake Trail Section 1 static map and guide text

Falls Lake Trail Section 6 static map showing Blue Jay Point (Lunch Stop)

Falls Lake Trail Section 13 static map and guide text


Windows device or Other Smartphone

With a Windows device or other smartphone you have two choices: 1) you can download the GeoPDF files and save them to your device for use on the field trip; 2) or while on the trip you can use your cellular data connection to access the guides via the following links.  Note: Without the Avenza App or other software that can read GeoPDFs, the maps will be static without location information.

Falls Lake Trail Section 1 static map and guide text

Falls Lake Trail Section 6 static map showing Blue Jay Point (Lunch Stop)

Falls Lake Trail Section 13 static map and guide text


Where do we meet to load the buses?

Parking Location to load buses in Google Maps


What can I read before the trip to familiarize myself with the geology of Falls Lake?

Stoddard, E.F. and Blake, D.E., eds., 1994, Geology and Field Trip Guide, Western Flank of the Raleigh metamorphic belt, North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina Geological Survey, Carolina Geological Society Guidebook for 1994, 110 p. Link to Guidebook on CGS site.

General information about the lake and its geology see: