Hiking Trails

Wake County wants feedback on 3 new nature preserves


People (and dogs) kayak at Robertson Millpond Nature Preserve.

Wake County

Wake County is doubling its number of nature preserves and wants to know what residents want.

Nature preserves have passive uses – think hiking, bird watching, horseback riding – unlike a traditional park with ball fields and playgrounds.

Three nature preserves are in the planning stages, and Wake County is hosting two in-person events this week to learn more and offer suggestions.

“This is an exciting opportunity to play an active role in the future of three nature preserves that residents and visitors will enjoy for years to come,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Sig Hutchinson. in a press release.

It will likely be years before the nature reserves are opened, with planning, design and construction still to come.

Wake County has three nature preserves that are now open. Robertson Millpond opened in 2015 with Turnipseed in 2017 and Sandy Pines in 2021. The county has acquired nearly 9,000 acres through its open space program.

Here are the new cans.

buffalo creek

This reserve is over 900 acres in eastern Wake County near Wendell and is close to the existing Millpond Reserve. It is the only location in Wake County that has a heritage blackwater cypress swamp, which is typically found on the coast.

Possible uses: Walking trails, kayaking, group camping areas, mountain biking trails, fishing ponds and picnic areas. It could also have green links to the Sandy Pines reservation, the future Little River reservation and the town of Wendell.

Little River

This nature preserve is approximately 3,700 acres and stretches from US 64 in Franklin County to the Sandy Pines Reservations. The property includes wetlands, open fields and forests.

Possible uses: Mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, wildlife viewing and horseback riding. It could have greenway connections to Zebulon, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Sandy Preserve and the future Buffalo Creek Nature Preserve.

Swift Creek

This reservation consists of 2,800 acres owned by Wake County, City of Garner, City of Raleigh, and private land with conservation easements. It stretches from Lake Wheeler to Lake Benson in the southern part of the county and includes wetlands, floodplains and wildlife habitats.

Possible uses: Hiking, environmental education, bird watching and wildlife lookout.

Want to weigh in?

People can give their opinion on the three nature reserves in person, by telephone or by e-mail.

Anna Johnson covers Raleigh and Wake County for the News & Observer. She has previously covered city government, crime and business for newspapers across North Carolina and has received numerous awards from the North Carolina Press Association, including first place for investigative journalism. She is a 2012 alumnus of Elon University.
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