8 nature preserves in the Triangle

A rocky creek at Johnston Mill nature preserve | Photo By Danielle Herman

There are eight public Triangle Land Conservancy Nature Preserves. Whether you are interested in the views, hiking, photography, or bird watching, there is plant-y of time to branch out and try them all. We picked some of our favorite features from these well-kept preserves below. 🌳

Wake County

Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve, 7800 Holly Springs Rd.

This quaint but mighty preserve is known for its massive beech trees, beavers, muskrats, and assortment of aquatic life. Its 23 acres of land includes a ~1 mile trail for hiking.
Plan ahead: Catch bloodroot and trout lilies in full bloom around the narrow floodplain in mid-February to help launch you into spring. 

Bailey and Sarah Williamson Preserve, 4409 Mial Plantation Rd.

This 405-acre preserve is rich in scenery and abundant in biking trails. It has 11 multi-use trails. DYK: This is the first public TLC nature preserve to have active farming activities on site. Submit an agricultural proposal here.

Orange County

Brumley Forest Nature Preserve, 3055 New Hope Church Rd., Chapel Hill 

This 613-acre preserve is focused on safeguarding Raleigh’s water supply. Two of the 15 trails run into the “Healing Labyrinth,” a space created as a place to reflect, meditate + restore your mind. Walk this seven-circuit labyrinth — meant to be mirrored by nature  — to center yourself and let go of your worries. 

The seven-circuit Healing Labyrinth | Photo by Triangle Land and Conservancy nature preserve

Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, 2713 Mt. Sinai Rd., Chapel Hill

If you’re looking for rocky terrain, try the Robin’s trail. This two-mile path with rocky sections is reminiscent of a mountain creek with its tranquil, reflective stretches. There are four other trails offered on the preserve’s 296 acres

Johnson County

Flower Hill Nature Preserve, 9038 Flower Hill Rd., Middlesex

In the spring, walk up this half mile trail to look over a field full of rosy-pink Catawba rhododendrons in bloom. DYK: On May, 4 1937, more than 4,760 visitors flocked to the field to marvel at the blooms that put Flower Hill on the map. 

Durham County

Horton Grove Nature Preserve, 7360 Jock Rd., Bahama

Listen to the wind whistle through a 20-acre, warm-season grassland field surrounding the main parking area before hopping on one of eight trails. DYK: All the trails are named after Black families whose ancestors were enslaved and forced to work on the 708 acre land; you can listen to their stories on kiosks around the preserve. 

Chatham/Lee Counties

McIver Landing on the Deep River, 14680 US 421 S., Gulf

Save this one for a sunny day — take your time meandering down the river to discover hidden gems like crumbling stone structures + an abundance of sycamore, beech, oak trees, and understory, buckeye, and pawpaw lining the river banks. There is a canoe launch on the preserve — so you can drop in and start exploring. Check out this paddle guide for more information. 🚣‍♀️ 

White Pines Nature Preserve, 548 South Rocky River Rd., Sanford

Bundle up for this cool spot. The temperatures at this preserve can drop as much as ten degrees lower than that of its neighbor, downtown Pittsboro. Warm up by trekking through the seven trails of lush forest where you can spot wild turkeys, broad-winged Hawks, and pileated woodpeckers. 

If you’re up for a challenge check out the TLC hiking challenge to win some goodies.