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New nature park opens in north Raleigh

The 157-acre nature preserve is now part of the city's parks system thanks to Dr. Annie Louise Wilkerson, Raleigh's first woman to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

Raleigh just opened a new nature park in north Raleigh thanks to the legacy of one woman who helped thousands of women deliver their babies.

The 157-acre Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park was left to the city in Wilkerson's will when she died in 2005. Wilkerson was Raleigh’s first woman to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. She delivered more than 8,000 babies during her career here.

Her will required the city to use the land, Wilkerson's country retreat, as a nature preserve. The will limits development of the property and says no trees can be cut down unless they are diseased. The property at 5229 Awls Have Dr. sits next to Falls Lake.

Improvements to the property to help make it accessible to the public were paid for in part by the city's 2007 parks bond. The first phase of improvements include turning an existing house into a park preserve office, outdoor educational shelter and restrooms. Other improvements to the site include entrance drive upgrades, trails and signs.

The city's parks department is putting together special nature programs and activities at the park for kids and adults.

Here are two coming up:

  • Enjoying Nature's Peace, 6 p.m.to 8 p.m., Aug. 26. Nature can be a healing force in our busy, stressful lives. Learn some simple techniques for connecting with nature through meditation and journaling. Participants will have some solo time to enjoy nature on their own. The program ends with group time to share or discuss our experiences with nature. Wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothing. Snack, water bottle and bug spray are recommended. Bring a camp stool or chair if you don't want to sit on the ground. For ages 16 years and up. Cost is $5.
  • Giant Trees Hike, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Aug. 27. Meet some really big trees at Wilkerson Nature Preserve. Hike around the oak hickory forest and try to find the biggest trees for various species. See birds and other tree dwellers. Wear closed-toe shoes. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Fee applies to all participants. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it at the educational shelter after the program. For all ages. Fee is $3.

Registration is required for these programs. For more information and to register, call 919-996-6764.

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