One Sunday morning at the end of October I took the girls to the newly opened Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve. The park is located at 2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd in Northeast Raleigh and contains about 146 acres of property on an oxbow of the Neuse River. The city purchased the property in 1994 as a future park site, and it is now being developed in multiple stages. According to the city’s website, Phase I development included improvements to the entrance drive and dam, parking, signage, soft surface walking trails, connection to Neuse River Greenway, picnic shelter and restroom facility. Future phases include developing an educational center, playground, amphitheater, and canoe launch while promoting sustainability and enhancing the land’s natural characteristics. We’ve been keeping an eye on this park ever since we explored the nearby Neuse River Trail so it’s nice to connect to a nature preserve along the greenway!
After parking in the main parking lot, we headed toward the large pavilion and then to the large open space to run and kick the ball around. Down from the large pavilion is an old red farm house and white picket fence leading to a rustic barn, all perfect for an outdoor photo op (which we witnessed while there). In looking at future phases, the farm house looks to be used for the education/art center.
Hoping to take advantage of energetic little ones we kicked the ball across the field to the other side of the tree line in hopes of finding the nature trail. Luckily I looked at the park’s website before coming out to the park to know a 0.5 mile natural walking trail runs along the tree line in a horseshoe shape. There were no signs within the park indicating such trail exists, but that’s probably because of the park’s infancy. So we headed to the tree line where you can barely make out the river through the woods and started our short walk. The girls really got into collecting berries and learning about plants in nature this fall so they really enjoyed this walk. Along our way we saw lots of berries, colorful leaves, tall and fuzzy grasslands, pine cones, moss, and sticks. The main parking lot and large open fields aren’t visible from a few sections of the path, but for the most part you can see the whole park from anywhere. The path horseshoed around toward the old farm house and barn where we saw a one year old’s cake smashing photo session going on, which was a lot of fun! The photo op motivated me take a few pics of the girls under the beautiful maple trees, which were just starting to show their color. I had to bribe them with the promise of chocolate once we got home!
After our walk we rested under the pavilion with snacks and water and then used the compost restroom facilities before heading home. I look forward to coming back to this park over the years to see new developments and to hopefully better time the changing of the colors of the leaves. Check out their list of upcoming park programs including a New Year’s Day 2016 Hike!
Thumbs up: connection to the greenway, open land for endless running and playing, easy 0.5 mile nature trail, future park developments, photo opportunities, compost restrooms, native landscaping
Thumbs down: lack of signage about nature trail inside park