Louisburg, N.C. — Off the beaten trail in Franklin County is a garden where people can disappear into nature.
Nature lover Allen DeHart runs the 88-acre DeHart Botanical Gardens, off U.S. Highway 401 near Louisburg.
"All of us have a reason for the place we live," he said. "All my life I have lived on or near land that was preserved."
Nearly 500 species of plants have been identified at the gardens, and the place is crawling with fish, turtles, birds, insects and other creatures.
DeHart describes it as a paradise. "It gives us a great peace of mind just to walk the trails," he said.
For Alex Mangum, 9, every hike in the DeHart gardens is special.
"I like it because you can sit on top of this rock and see the whole lake and take pictures," Alex said.
His mother, Tonya Mangum, said she's glad to get her son out in nature and off the living room floor.
"To be able to experience hearing the birds and seeing the bugs in the water, to touch and feel nature as opposed to just popping in a Discovery (Channel) DVD," she said.
Alex said that everyone should take in the DeHart gardens.
"You should come out here and get away from the city," Alex said. "You can hike these trails and see all these plants and these trees. There's bamboo, and there's creeks and a big lake."
This story is part of WRAL's summer travel series, "Nooks and Crannies," which airs every Friday in WRAL's News at 5:30 p.m.