Many people enjoy a big backyard with an area to have barbecues, enough open space for a swing set and other activities, and a beautiful view of nature. Everyone who visits Chatham County and its communities enjoys that luxury tenfold. It's the area to which everyone wants to escape. The lengthy list of activities for those who enjoy the great outdoors provides visitors and local residents with year-round adventures.
Chatham County is synonymous with the phrase, "quality of life." Why? The area is a vast 707 square miles in which the most active and adventurous personalities and those less interested in aggressive sports will find their favorite spot and activity.
One of our great gems is Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, which has been honored with numerous accolades in the past few years. It is consistently rated the Best Place to Hike and Bike, Best Place for Family Outings, Best Day Trip and has repeatedly been in the Top Ten North Carolina Attractions. The diversity of nature fun is obvious, whether you want to camp under the stars, look for eagles on the observation deck, take nature hikes, learn about the birds and other creatures at Jordan Lake, participate in astronomy sessions, or perform nature crafts.
Other experiences at Jordan Lake include fishing and, with 14,000 acres of water, the lake is yours to fish for bass, crappie, catfish and pan fish - but make sure to obtain a state fishing license and to follow the rules of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
Bald eagle watching is popular at Jordan Lake, and many visitors have been fortunate enough to see the national bird. The best vantage points are the NC 751 bridge crossing Northeast Creek or the NC Wildlife Resources Commission's Wildlife Observation Deck. Don't be discouraged if it's difficult to spot a bald eagle. The National Audubon Society identified 15 Fantastic City Birding Areas in 2003, and Jordan Lake State Recreation Area was in the top 10. Jordan Lake is now among the "most visitable" Important Bird Areas (IBA) providing great bird watching experiences in an urban setting, which only enhances Chatham County's great location between the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) and the Piedmont Triad (Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem).
Boating is a common use for Jordan Lake's vast waters, and the lake was the site for the Governor's Cup Regatta in 2003. Some of the recreation areas offer boat ramps that are open 24 hours and nearby privately owned Crosswinds Marina rents fishing and pontoon boats. Windsurfers and sailors alike find a place to sharpen their skills. Canoeing and kayaking are also popular water sports in Chatham County - and not just on Jordan Lake; three rivers, Haw, Rocky and Deep, offer an abundance of playgrounds. A local outfitter provides guided trips including canoe, sea kayak, birding trips, photo trips, writing trips, moonlight paddles, sunset paddles and more.
Camping at Jordan Lake is an alternative to lodging at a local bed & breakfast, hotel or five-star inn (Fearrington House). Choose from more than 1,000 campsites, some more primitive than others, depending on your comfort level. Backpack and canoe camping are possibilities - either camping deep in the heart of the woods or canoeing to your campsite. Each site has a picnic table, grill and lantern post. Less primitive yet still adventurous sites offer electric hookups and nearby showers.
Living in and visiting Chatham County (also referred to as "The Heart of North Carolina," and not just due to its geographic location) means that the beach and mountains are a few hours away. Jordan Lake offers swimming and beach areas where one can enjoy the Carolina-blue sky above as the sun sparkles upon cobalt waters. Picnicking at Jordan Lake is ideal for couples, families and corporate retreats (some shelters have fireplaces, so year-round visits are possible).
Families particularly enjoy Jordan Lake State Educational Forest, which offers outdoor educational workshops, picnic facilities, ranger-conducted classes and the well-known "Talking Tree" Trail. In the works is the ambitious, multi-county project, the 23-mile American Tobacco Trail with five of its miles in Chatham County.
Beyond Jordan Lake, traveling west, exists a scenic byway with breathtaking views and a fascinating legend. Devil's Tramping Ground is the site of a colorful community tale that has become one of North Carolina's favorite stories. The legend claims that this clearing was the place in which a circular path was worn down by the Devil's pacing as he plotted new forms of mischief. The Devil's Stomping Ground Road, one of North Carolina's 45 scenic byways, starts in Pittsboro (NC 902) and leads to Bear Creek, the home of Southern Supreme (North Carolina's largest fruitcake producer with tours and tastings year round!).
Strolling picturesque gardens is another pleasure in Pittsboro. Fearrington Village, once a working family farm in the 1700s, today is the site of a number of distinctive shops, a cafe and North Carolina's only five-star, five-diamond inn and restaurant. "The Village" offers a number of breathtaking landscape creations for strolling and touring. The gardens at Fearrington Village include: Jenny's Fragrant White Garden; the Perennial Border; the Herb Garden; the Inn's English Courtyard and Knot Garden; and the garden at the Market Cafe, an informal Southern garden. Tour the gardens with Fearrington's horticulturist (add a picnic lunch from the Market Cafe or enjoy a three-course dining experience at the award-winning Fearrington House Restaurant). The tour includes gar- dening tips, a historical overview of the gardens and village and plant identification and plant use.
Hiking, cycling and riding motorcycles are fun modes of transportation for locals and visitors - whether it's walking to see the historic buildings and districts of Pittsboro, Siler City, and Goldston (recognized by the National Historic Register), cycling along a 198-mile system of bicycle trails, or meeting as a group for breakfast before riding motorcycles down scenic winding roads.
Golf is great fun in Chatham County. Governors Club boasts a 27-hole championship golf course (ranked sixth in the Piedmont Top 10 and 20th in North Carolina) designed by Jack Nicklaus. The course here is carved out of Edwards Mountain, making for a challenging and picture-perfect game. The county’s newest golf course, designed by Davis Love III, The Preserve at Jordan Lake, is a semi-private course in the process of receiving its designation as an Audubon Certified Sanctuary Golf Course. Golfers enjoy rolling woodlands, trickling brooks and acres of preserved hardwood forest. Twin Lakes, a public golf course, offers nine holes, with its signature hole overlooking "Twin Lakes."
Whether you are visiting, living or working in Chatham County, it's the ideal location to enjoy your favorite sports, take in scenic beauty and simply get a breath of fresh air. For more information about things to do, access: http://www. visitchathamcounty.com/attractions.shtml.