Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve
A Joint Project between the Town of Cary and the State of North Carolina
Facts & Figures
Address: 2626 Kildaire Farm Rd, Cary, NC 27518
Size: 140 acres
Hours: Open daily from 9:00am to sunset
Phone: (919) 387-5980
Management: Joint partnership between the Town of Cary, Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources and the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Division of Parks & Recreation
- Nature Programs
Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve is a joint project between the Town of Cary and the State of North Carolina. The majority of land is owned by the state, with a small parcel owned by the Town of Cary. The area is named for the Hemlock trees which grow in this area, which is rare and unique for the Piedmont region of North Carolina and is why they are protected. Hemlock trees typically grow in the Westernmost part of the state in the mountains, but a small forest of Hemlocks lie here in the heart of the Piedmont and Triangle area of North Carolina, making for a unique site.
Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve features the Stevens Nature Center, over three miles of hiking trails with interpretive signage, and observation decks with scenic overlooks. It is a great place for families with small children, as there are several short loops for hiking, many covered with wood chips.
We discovered Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve after seeing a post on Facebook with a link to an article from OnlyInYourState.com titled: Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in North Carolina is So Hidden Most Locals Don’t Even Know About It. Boy were they right! Our family has lived in the Triangle for almost seven years and all the dozens of hikes through the years around our area, we had never even heard about Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve!
So, I made a point that the next time we went out to explore a new area, this would be it. With the cooler temperatures and fall-like weather last week, we decided to go for a hike on Saturday morning. So, I did some research on the hiking trails in the area, packed up our hiking gear and a picnic lunch, loaded the kids in the vehicle, and made our way to Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. Upon arrival, the Stevens Nature Center was closed due to COVID-19, but the restrooms were open. There were tons of families with children out hiking, as well, with the same idea as we had: get out and enjoy hiking in this beautiful weather.
We explored the Western half of the park, starting toward the Chestnut Oak Loop Trail, right toward the Beechtree Cove to the West Hemlock Bluffs Overlook, then to the Beech Tree Cove Overlook, then to the Chestnut Oak Overlook, finishing the entire Chestnut Oak Loop Trail, then right on the main trail back to the Stevens Nature Center, then back to our vehicle in the parking lot. Altogether we hiked just under two miles, that included an additional half mile double back, after we realized that our toddler son had lost his sandal while being carried on our backpack child carrier as we were almost finished with our hike. We ended our adventure with a tailgate lunch in our vehicle, which our kids greatly enjoyed! Of all of the places we have explored here in the Triangle, I can see this as our new local favorite destination for hiking…