Posts Tagged ‘nature trail’

Brookhaven Nature Park

img_2210Fall is prime time for hiking, enjoying the great weather and taking in the leaves changing colors.  We recently visited Brookhaven Nature Park in the Brookhaven neighborhood at 5125 Berkeley St near Crabtree Valley Mall.  Brookhaven is a city park, but the Jr Woman’s Club of Raleigh helps maintain and beautify it.  After arriving at the park we explored the pavilion area and then headed off on the Main Trail, which is a narrow, unpaved path that criss-crosses several streams.  Part of the trail is labeled wheelchair-accessible, but the paved trail seemed rather uneven and the decline was rather steep (imho).  This time of year the trail was covered in rust-colored leaves so we took extra caution when hiking, especially with Ashley in the backpack.

For being in a North Raleigh neighborhood the trail is actually pretty hilly, so we were surprised by how much actual “hiking” we did.  Its peacefulness should also be noted, especially with its close proximity to so many busy Raleigh roads.  Along the hike we came across a small pond with a deck for taking in the views and scouting for fauna.  On this particular day the reflections on the pond made it look like the trees were sprouting from the water…it made for great pictures!  The deck also featured a few informational signs about the fauna in the area, snapping turtles and mallards.

After leaving the pond we followed the Main Trail some more and then took the Pine Tree Loop and Upland Forest Trails to increase our hiking distance, which actually only totaled about 1 mile.  Even though the hike was short overall it was a fun, quick way to explore a naturally hilly part of Raleigh.  Be sure to bring another adult with you to this trail and all trails; this park is not staffed and the trails are not heavily traveled with other visitors.

Thumbs up: photo ops, good hiking workout, peacefulness, proximity within city, shadiness

Thumbs down: confusing signage near end of the trail


Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park

img_1720If you’re looking for a place to go hiking in Raleigh and have exhausted your options at Umstead Park, you should definitely make your way into North Raleigh to Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park.  Being the only visitors at the park a few months ago, we visited the main office and spoke to the very friendly and knowledgeable staff about the history of the park.  It was lovely to hear her speak about Dr. Annie’s will to leave the land as a nature preserve park.  The park office was converted from an old residence on the property and there are future plans to convert Dr. Annie’s old standing residence into indoor classrooms.

After visiting the park office, we headed off on the Hidden Rocks trail (1 mile long), which is known for having several crops of hidden rocks throughout.  The trail is about 2ft wide in most places and an easy path to walk, but there are a few narrow and slippery spots throughout.  This trail passes through open fields, forests of hardwoods.  As this park is still taking shape, the signs aren’t completely finished yet, so be sure to pay close attention to where you are going.  After Hidden Rocks trail, we walked the Pond Loop, which is about 1/2 mile long and crosses over one of the ponds on the property.  This particular day was absolutely gorgeous and the reflections off the pond were crystal clear.  On our next trip here, we’ll be sure to bring our hiking backpack instead of the Bob stroller that we used.  I’m sure we looked ridiculous with our stroller!

Being that this is a nature preserve park, you won’t find any of the regular playground equipment you’re accustomed to at other parks.  However, that did not prevent Ashley from having an amazing time in the natural play area; complete with stumps, teepees, tall grasses, and large logs, there are a lot of options for kids to have some imaginative play.

Near the natural play area is also a large pavilion used for educational programs and the public restrooms.  For more information about the Dr. Annie park, visit the City of Raleigh website.

Thumbs up: hiking trails, play area, park office, views of the open fields, photo ops, picnic spots

Thumbs down: signage through hiking trail

Edna Metz Wells Park

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This post originally appeared on, where you can learn more about what a great place South West Raleigh is to live, work, and play.

Looking for a park in the Creative District bursting with fall colors?  Then, make your next park visit to Edna Metz Wells Park, where urban and nature intersect. This is a small park on the edge of Cameron Village that you’ve probably passed by a dozen times on the way to Glenwood South and never paid much attention.  It’s located at the intersection of Smallwood Drive, W Johnson Street, and Peace Street at the southern edge of Cameron Village. W Johnson Street is one-way, so go around the block and park either on Park Drive or W Johnson Street.  In late 2010, a $340,000 stream enhancement project was completed at the park as part of an improvement plan for Pigeon House Branch, a watershed that drains much of the downtown area.

Edna Metz Wells Park has several walking trails that meander through the mature trees and over the stream.  Several small bridges cross the water and large boulders on the southern part of the stream aid in preventing further erosion.  The dense forest is full of pines, oaks, magnolias, and ferns, to name a few!  The leafy tree colors are magnificent right now, great for photo ops and picnic spots.

There are also a few open areas in the park, still mostly shaded with nearby benches.  This is a great park for taking in some nature in an urban setting.  The sounds from the stream provide a nice backdrop to the busy nearby streets.  The USGS stream gauging station at the park helps monitor water levels and flow rates for flood forecasting and other projects.

So, grab a lunch or dinner nearby at Noodles & Co or Piccola Italia and head to Edna Metz Wells Park for a nice stroll and picnic.

Thumbs up: photo ops, shady, walking trails, nature spot, beautiful neighborhood park

Thumbs down: lack of information on-site about park

Adventures at Jaycee Park

Oh the Jaycee Park…something for everyone!  As a member of the Raleigh Jaycees since 2007, I’m proud of this park and what it provides to the community. The Jaycee Park was built in the 1960’s and the Raleigh Jaycees were instrumental in helping raise funds by selling targets at the Turkey Shoot at the NC State Fair. Since then it has provided years of recreation for people of all ages.  There’s such a wide variety of things to do here, it’ll take you half a day to explore them all.

If you’re looking for recreational activities, this is the park!  It has 3 lit baseball fields, a large community center, 6 lit sand volleyball courts, 2 lit tennis courts, and a large sandy playground. Next to the sand volleyball courts there’s even a shower faucet for post-game rinses.  The shade trees and benches next to the playground provide great picnic spots. There is also a large recycling drop-off area, community center, administration building, pavilion with charcoal grill and restrooms, and a hemerocallis (daylily) garden.

This park is located at 2405 Wade Avenue inside the beltline and has two entrances with parking lots, one from Wade Ave and one from Chamberlain St.  From Wade Ave, you can easily get to the community center, administration building, and hemerocallis garden.  To get to the recreational areas you can walk up a hill or drive around to the other parking area.  The hill isn’t very steep, but there’s not a paved path so I don’t recommend it with a stroller.

Views of the baseball fields

Tennis courts and sand volleyball courts

Wade Ave entrance, administration building, and community center

Pavilion with restrooms and charcoal grill and playground

Ashley enjoying a shady spot near the playground

Raleigh Hemerocallis Garden and gazebo within the garden

3 of the 50+ different species of daylilies featured in the garden

Brick path that allows you to meander through the daylily garden

A plaque memorializing the daylily gardens in honor of Charles Benjamin “Ben” Huyett

Enjoy your time at Jaycee Park and don’t forget to appreciate how it came to be!  If you’re interested in learning more about the Raleigh Jaycees come visit us at a meeting or better yet…come out to the Beer & Wine Tasting tomorrow night at Tir Na Nog to benefit the HOBY NC East program.

Thumbs up:  condition of tennis/volleyball courts and baseball fields, landscaping, shady spots for picnics, daylily gardens, playground, parking

Thumbs down: Wade Ave entrance, lack of sidewalks near Wade Ave entrance, lack of signage

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