What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Explore four trails at this Cary nature preserve

Posted May 28, 2020 5:00 a.m. EDT

— With social distancing still recommended, many people are looking for great ways to get out and about and explore nature.

For this week's travel feature, we recommend taking a trip to the nearby Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary. This is one of Go Ask Mom editor Sarah Hall's favorite places.

"I've always loved it here and have enjoyed walks with my kids here, though I don't get there as much as I'd like. It's a cool, shady spot in the summer and a wonderful place for families to explore all year," Hall wrote in a feature about the preserve in 2012.

Located not far from busy Kildaire Farm Road, this 140-acre preserve is home to a variety of animals including deer and rabbits. It's also a great spot for bird watching.

Birding with the Girl Scouts

Look for Eastern Hemlock trees, which are known for their cones, at the center of the Stevens Nature Center courtyard and on the bluffs of Swift Creek. Hemlock trees date back 10,000 years to the last glacial period. The Town of Cary's website says that the plants seen at Hemlock Bluffs are believed to be relics of the past, which survived "in this particular location due to the protective nature of the north-facing bluffs which provide a relatively cool, moist environment for the plants."

Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve_03

What to know before you go

Where: 2616 Kildaire Farm Road,Cary, NC 27518

Hours: The nature preserve gates open at 9 a.m. and close at sunset. When you get there, check the sign at the gate or trail-head kiosk for the exact closing time. Call the Stevens Nature Center at 919-387-5980 for more information.

Trails: There are four trials to check out with the longest being the 1.2 mile Chestnut Oak Loop Trail around the nature center. It features views of a tributary of Swift Creek.

What you can't do at the park:

  • For your safety and the protection of the preserve, stay on the trails.
  • Bicycles, skateboards, roller-blades, motorized vehicles, and horses are not permitted on the trails.
  • No hunting, fishing or trapping.
  • No release of captured animals.
  • This is a nature preserve; collection, removal, or disturbance of any natural object is prohibited.
  • No smoking or fires permitted.
  • Alcoholic beverages prohibited.
  • Pets must be on a 6 foot leash. Keep dogs on the trail. Cary ordinances require that you clean up after your pet.
  • Picnicking is discouraged.

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