Winston-Salem’s Hidden Diamond
Salem Lake

WRITER & PHOTOS Stephanie Koreneff

If you’re in Winston-Salem and want to escape the hustle and bustle of the crowd, look no further than Salem Lake. Located mere minutes from downtown, this beauty has been called Winston’s hidden diamond for a reason. Not only is it breathtaking, but you feel like you’re in a whole other world while you’re there. From walking trails to fishing piers, playgrounds to pristine waters, there is something for the whole family to enjoy.

Begin your journey at the Salem Lake trailhead near the marina. This is a great place to start because, depending on what you want to do, there are a lot of great activities available. Let’s start with the walking trail. Their website boasts that it is one of the most popular outings for exercise, and once there, I could understand why. Though it is not paved, the trail is wide, well-maintained, and mostly shaded. For the most part, it’s fairly flat, and there is plenty of room for the casual walker, the runner, and those who want to ride their bikes. Plus, you will often see people walking their dogs, something Baby Girl was excited about. The trail makes a seven mile loop around the lake, offering stunning views at every turn. Mile markers are placed along the trail to indicate how far you have gone.

Prefer to ride instead of walk? No worries. Over by the playground at the trailhead is a rack of bikes ready to be rented for a small fee of $3 an hour, though trips under an hour are free. All you need to do is download the Zagster app, join the Winston-Salem Bike Share, and unlock a bike with a code. Once you’re finished, return the bike to the rack. Simple! Just be sure to bring your own helmet.

Fishing is also a popular activity at Salem Lake. There are several different kinds of fish that live in the lake including largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, and carp. It was even reported that a man caught a 38-pound catfish! You have options to fish from the pier or to rent or bring your own boat. Fishing from the shoreline is prohibited.
If you forget your bait, or if you get hungry or thirsty while you’re there, there’s no need to leave. The fishing station and bait shop located inside the Salem Lake Marina Center is stocked with everything you might need from fishing supplies to snacks and cold drinks. Plus, they are able to issue state fishing licenses, which anyone over the age of sixteen will need in order to fish.

The Marina Center is also where you go to rent a boat or kayak. For only $6 a day, you can rent a jon-boat to fish from, however you will need to bring your own motor. Up to four people can use one of these at once. Kayaks are seasonal, offered mid-April through mid-October when the water is warmer. They offer several tandem or single-person kayaks. For both of these options, paddles and life vests are provided.

In addition, the Marina Center boasts a rental space that is great for birthday parties, corporate events, weddings, receptions, and more. This space is available for use during regular park hours and also outside of normal operating hours for an additional fee. The great room can accommodate a large crowd, and it boasts panoramic views of the lake. The rental space also includes a comfortably furnished lobby, a catering kitchen complete with commercial appliances, and a wrap-around deck that offers views of Salem Lake. To rent this space, you will need to either call, email or visit the center in person. You will be responsible for all setup and cleanup.

All in all, Salem Lake is a gorgeous park hidden away from the rest of the city. Once you’re there, you will soon forget that you’re in Winston-Salem, and it’s far enough from the roads that I didn’t hear any traffic noise while I was strolling along the trails. The people and dogs we met were friendly, and we all had a great time. I highly encourage you to visit if you haven’t already been. I promise you will be glad you did.

Salem Lake Park – 815 Salem Lake Road
For information about Salem Lake,
call 336-650-7677