Editor’s Note: The following information was provided by Kent Wilcox on behalf of Friends of DuPont Forest.
Lake Julia is 100 acres and the largest lake in DuPont State Recreational Forest. This man-made lake had its beginnings in the late 1960s.
Between Sept. 20 and Dec. 29, 1967, in four separate purchases, Ben Cart bought a total of 1,437 acres of contiguous tracts of land for about $208,500 in Cedar Mountain. The Dec. 29 purchase was for 40 acres from the DuPont Corporation, which was critical to Cart because it included the portion of Reasonover Creek, where he intended to build a dam.
The mostly-forested land in an area locally referred to as Buck Forest encompassed portions of the watersheds of Briery Fork Creek, Little Briery Creek and Reasonover Creek. The tract was roughly bounded on the south side by Reasonover Road and on the north side by the 11,000 acre tract owned by the DuPont Corporation.
In 1968, Cart applied for a permit to build a dam on Reasonover Creek. His intention was to create a lake that would be the centerpiece for a camp for youths. In the summers of 1968 and 1969, Cart hired a crew of local residents and high school students to clear trees and vegetation from a 100-acre tract at the confluence of Briery Fork Creek and Reasonover Creek.
Although the exact date has not yet been established, around 1970 or 1971 an earthen dam was built across Reasonover Creek using red clay dug from the eventual lake bed and a concrete spillway was constructed around a small knoll north of the dam. Dynamite was used to remove bedrock and create a new streambed from below the spillway to Reasonover Creek. Today, the smooth rocks and shallow, cool pools in that newly-created streambed provide a favorite wading and picnic spot for visitors.
The inflow of water from Briery Fork Creek and Reasonover Creek soon created a 99-acre lake that was initially called Summit Lake, with an estimated depth of 30 to 60 feet. Cart subsequently changed the name to Lake Julia in honor of his wife. Lake Julia was the focal point for the Summit Camp for Boys and the Summit Camp for Girls, which operated from roughly 1972 to 1983. About 70 boys and 70 girls ages 7 to 17 were enrolled in each four-week summer session and supervised by 14 camp counselors. Activities on Lake Julia included swimming, sailing, canoeing, water skiing and scuba diving.
In 1991, Cart sold the entire 1,400 tract, including Lake Julia, to the DuPont Corporation for nearly $2 million. The DuPont Corporation purchased this area primarily to acquire Lake Julia, which they needed as a supply for drinking and manufacturing water because the flow from the Little River was inadequate. Recreational use of Lake Julia was banned during the period when it provided drinking water for employees at the manufacturing plant. The plant shut down in 1999, and the recreational ban was removed when the N.C. Forest Service acquired the property in 2002.
Today, Lake Julia is once again a popular recreational site. The N.C. Forest Service built a new dock at the end of Lake View Loop for easy access for boaters and swimmers. No permit is required to paddle a canoe, kayak, or paddle board on Lake Julia, but these must be carried in and removed by the end of the day. Swimming is permitted, but visitors should use caution, as there are no life guards on duty. Fishing is allowed with a valid N.C. fishing license. The lake contains a number of fish species, including bass and blue gill, which were probably stocked by the camp staff. The lake has frozen over shore-to-shore several times, most recently in January 2010, but the ice was too thin to support skaters or ice hockey.
Thanks to the absence of agricultural and manufacturing activities upstream, the water quality in Lake Julia is pristine. However, the N.C. Forest Service discourages drinking water from Lake Julia because disease-carrying animals including beaver, deer, raccoons, coyotes, bear, various rodents and numerous species of birds live in the watersheds above the lake.
To get to the lake, take Buck Forest Road across the covered bridge for 0.6 miles, turn right 0.8 miles on Conservation Road and left on the trail just beyond the spillway bridge to the Lake Julia dam, which can be walked on but is not open to horses or bikes. The total distance from the High Falls Access Area to Lake Julia is 1.4 miles. An alternate route is to go 1.4 miles down Conservation Road and left 0.2 miles on Lake Julia Road to the Ranger Station for a total of 2.2 miles from High Falls Access Area or 1.7 miles from the Fawn Lake Access Area. F