Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Destination: Talking Tree Trail at Jordan Lake Educational State Forest

Posted May 7, 2015 8:45 p.m. EDT

My kids do OK on a walk but, as I've written before, it's nice to have a goal or a treat or something fun waiting at the end (see my earlier post on the N.C. Museum of Art's whisper benches).

So when my five-year-old asked where we were headed one day as we pulled out of the driveway, she wasn't thrilled about my plans for a hike until I told her this: "But the trees talk!"

"They do?" she asked in wonder.

OK ... the trees don't really, actually talk along the Talking Tree Trail at the Jordan Lake Educational State Forest, but there's plenty here to move kids along a scenic 1/2 mile trail. Here, along a natural path, hikers can press buttons on wooden posts to turn on recordings about various trees that you're seeing along the way.

There's information about loblolly pines, shagbark hickory, sourwoods and beechnuts, among others. Press the buttons a couple of times to hear more about each of the trees - how they live, how they're used and more.

Paul Kalish, education ranger, said the forest opened in 1994 and the Talking Tree Trail was among the first built. Land owners visit the spot to learn more about forestry practices. It also hosts field trips and environmental education programs for school groups, scouts and others, Kalish said. Most are generally geared toward grade schoolers, but Kalish said rangers can cater to any age.

"We'll do any group at all," he said. "We can tailor our programs to meet their needs."

There's plenty of parking here and bathrooms. Be sure to check out the display with a bulldozer and helicopter, which have been used for controlled burns. They sit right near the restrooms and parking lot.

The state forest is open from March 1 to Nov. 30. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends; and closed on Mondays. It's at 2832 Big Woods Rd., Chapel Hill, right near popular Jordan Lake beaches, including Seaforth. To set up a group program, call 919-542-1154 or go to the website.

Another Talking Tree Trail and educational state forest is in Johnston County at Clemmons Educational State Forest.

Go Ask Mom features places to take kids every Friday. For more, check our posts on parks and playgrounds and Triangle family destinations.