05/26/13 — Cliffs swimming lake now open

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Cliffs swimming lake now open

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 26, 2013 1:50 AM

Cooling off in the water this summer doesn't have to mean driving out of town to the ocean or buying a membership to a pool. Instead, you can jump in the old swimming hole at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park.

It's an 11-acre man-made lake filled with natural spring water and rain.

The Cliffs' lake opened Friday for Memorial Day and will stay open through Labor Day. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until school starts in August. Then the lake will be open only on the weekend.

The cost to swim is $5 for adults, $4 for ages 4 through 12 and free for ages 3 and younger.

This year there will be four special weekends for military, firefighters, policemen and EMS personnel -- May 27, June 15, July 4 and Aug. 31. These people and their families will be able to swim for just $1 person with identification.

"The water is tested every year for water quality, so we know it's good quality water for swimming," park ranger Candace Rose said. "It's very clean because it's spring fed."

She said there is a shallow end and a deep end, both marked off with ropes.

"You can go out to the deep end, but you have to pass a swim test first," the ranger said. "We also have lifeguards on duty. It's a protected swimming area."

There are foam platforms at the shallow end of the lake for the children to jump off.

Of course, if you have your own flotation devices or beach toys, you can take them.

Snacks, drinks and ice cream are available for purchase, or you can take your own.

There also are paddleboats, canoes and kayaks available for rent. A kayak fits one person, a canoe two and a paddleboat four.

Rates are $5 an hour and $3 for each additional hour.

One person in the canoe or paddleboat has to be 16 or older and have an ID or valid driver's license.

"When it comes to the kayaks, since it's a single-person boat, an older family member can rent two and go out with a younger person," Ms. Rose said.

Life jackets and paddles will be provided with each boat rental.

Boaters may not take their own boat to the lake.

Again this year, the Cliffs will have free movie nights on the beach the first and third Friday of each month throughout the summer. On those nights the lake is open right up until 8 p.m. when the movie starts with the bathrooms open later.

During the movie, refreshments will be sold or you can take your own. Also take your blanket or lawn chair.

"This place is historically a swim hole for people to come and recreate," Ms. Rose said. "It's a valuable part of this community.

"You can come out here, take a deep breath and relax. It's really nice to be able to go down to the lake and lay on the grass and be able to sun and go swimming. It's a good alternative for families."

For more information, call the Cliffs of the Neuse at 919-778-6234.