Salem Lake Trail Information

Salem Lake Trail is located within the city limits of Winston-Salem at 1001 Salem Lake Road, Winston-Salem, NC, North Carolina; the city Parks and Recreation Department maintains the trail.

The trail is a wide, mostly unpaved, hard-packed cinder, seven-mile loop around the perimeter of Salem Lake, a 365-acre reservoir for the Winston-Salem city water department. There is no development around the lake so you always just see trees and water; it seems as if you are in a wilderness area.

The lake is always visible from the trail. Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and fishing boats are always on the lake. Powerboats are limited at as to motor size and speed, so the lake is a quite environment. Photographers and bird watchers are commonly seen because of the beautiful scenery and abundant waterfowl, such as herons and egrets. Ducks and geese are always around the trailhead picnic area looking for handouts.

Trail map on Google Maps

  • Paved parking lots are located by the fishing station and pier.
  • A large gravel lot is located just inside the main gate beside the trailhead and picnic area.
  • When the lake parking lots are full or the gate to the lake is locked; a gravel lot is located on Salem Lake Road just before the main gate with a short trail leading down to the main trailhead.
  • At the eastern end of the lake, a paved parking is located beside the trail and Linville Road.
  • A small, unpaved lot is located at the end of New Greensboro Road; it used primarily by horseback riders.

Trail surface

Short sections of the trail on either side of the dam are paved, but the remainder of the trail is unpaved. The unpaved finely crushed rock surface is similar to a beach; it is firm and does not get muddy; however, when soaking wet, it gets soft and mushy. When wet, the sand sticks to everything. It sticks to your tires, which throw the particles onto your bike derailleurs, gears, and chain, and onto your shoes, legs, and back. Even when the sand is dry, it will stick to you bike’s drive train and will wear parts more than would when riding on paved surfaces. Rinsing your bike after a ride and using a wax based lube on the chain will help reduce wear. I get about 900-1000 miles on a chain and set of tires.

The trail surface is can be slippery when dry due to loose sand on top of hard-packed sand. Loose piles of sand can build up on the downhill side of the trail, especially in curves. It can be scary to slip in loose sand in a curve, but if you do not panic and hold your course, you will usually ride through the slide with no problem.

Heavy precipitation, freezing and thawing, wind, and heavy trail usage causes ruts and exposes roots and rocks. These are not much of a problem for casual riders but faster riders will have to watch out for them.

  • The fishing station at the western end of the lake has restrooms, water, drinks, snacks, and trail information.
  • There is a water fountain at the western end of the lake at the Linville Road parking lot.
  • From the foot of the dam, if you ride down the Salem Creek trail about 1.5 miles there is a paved cut off to the left that leads up a short, steep hill to a picnic area and restrooms.
  • There are number benches, picnic tables, and trashcans located around the trail.
  • There are information signs located around the lake that describe wildlife, offer bicycling tips, and contain secret codes for children.
  • When riding from the trailhead counter-clockwise around the lake to the dam and them down the Salem Creek Greenway, there are mile markers.
  • Sometimes porta-potties are located at the eastern end of the lake at Linville Road.


When traveling counterclockwise from the trailhead at main parking lot, you will first encounter numerous trail information signs. Along the trail at specific points, there are information signs about the animals or vegetation you may see and tips for cyclists.


I ride the trail 4 to 5 times a week, on weekdays and weekends, and I have never seen anybody or anything suspicious. I see women and men of all ages walking, running, and biking alone. I see women with baby carriages and parents with children. There is a constant flow of trail users during the week and crowds of users on the weekends. I have been never seen any homeless people, beggars, alcohol drinkers, or troublemakers. You always have to be cautious anywhere you are, but the only reported crimes near the trail in 2015 were two auto break-ins at the Linville Road parking lot in April.


If you have a minor accident on the trail, please call the Fishing Station at (336) 650-7677 (program it into your phone before you set out on the trail) instead of dialing 911. Lake staff will be more than happy to assist you. In serious emergencies, call 911 first; then please call the Fishing Station to give them your location. Also, make a contact for the police non-emergency number at (336) 773-7700.

CONCEALED WEAPONS. With a current concealed weapons permit, concealed firearms ARE PERMITTED on the Salem Creek Greenway. The greenway travels through or near some parks; if carrying a concealed weapon do not leave the greenway when athletic fields or courts are scheduled for use by the Recreation and Parks Department. See city pdf at:

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