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Harris Lake, stretching its watery fingers out over 4,100 North Carolina acres, was created by Carolina Power and Light by impoundment of Buckhorn Creek, part of the Cape Fear River Basin. Construction of Buckhorn Creek Dam began in 1978 and was completed in 1981. The lake filled in 1983 to its full pool elevation of 220 feet above sea level. The primary purpose of Harris Lake is to provide cooling water for Progress Energy's Shearon Harris nuclear power plant, which began commercial operation in 1987.
Located just 22 miles southwest of Raleigh, Harris Lake is a convenient recreational destination for those looking for a quiet haven. Currently, there is no lakefront residential development. Progress Energy leases 680 acres to Wake County's Harris Lake Park. The park is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until sunset, and offers visitors a 50-person primitive camp site with a fire ring, playground, fishing pier, fishing pond, and a canoe and kayak launch site. Two boat launches are available at other locations outside of the park.
Fishing is also a popular outdoor activity at Harris Lake. The lake's crappie, largemouth bass, and speckled trout are said to be larger than average because of the lake's warm waters, heated by the nearby power plant. Whatever the reasons, fishing on Harris Lake is a treat for anglers of all ages, providing year-round catches that will make you proud.
Hiking and mountain bike trails also pepper the area and have a good reputation among area hikers and cyclists. The mountain bike trails range from beginner to advanced, though experienced bikers say that the advanced trails do not offer very difficult obstacles. However, all riders and walkers marvel at how well-kept the trails are, the exquisite natural beauty that surrounds, and the picture-perfect photo opportunities provided.
Duck season brings novice and seasoned hunters to the shores of Harris Lake, as it is known as one of the best places in the state to bag your limit of ducks. Most prevalent are ring-necked ducks, scaup, and mallards.
History buffs will enjoy a nice day trip from Harris Lake to Historic Oak View County Park, another in the Wake County park system. A 19th century homestead, the old, imposing white house sits among trees and well-groomed grounds. The park's mission is to educate the public about North Carolina's agricultural heritage and rural history. Complimenting more than 165 years of farming history with several fun activities, the park is a crowd-pleaser for all ages.
For those who truly want to get back to nature, Harris Lake and the surrounding area will offer you all the natural greens and blues your heart desires.
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