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Nature Parks, Preserves, and Programs


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We Provide Access and Enjoyment We Educate and Interpret We Manage and Protect Accessibility Nature Parks and Preserves Nature Connection Annual Reports

Who are we?

Our team is comprised of the Annie Louise Wilkerson MD Nature Preserve, Durant Nature Preserve, Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve, Nature Programs Office, and Walnut Creek Wetland Park.

Our Mission

Our mission is to connect people and nature through experiences, education, and conservation. Our vision is to create strong, healthy, sustainable communities and environment.

We Provide Access and Enjoyment

Sensory and Nature Play Area at Durant Nature Preserve.

Sensory and Nature Play Area at Durant Nature Preserve.

We provide diverse opportunities for the community to experience and connect with nature by offering recreational opportunities, space for family and community gatherings, life events and business meetings with a natural backdrop, or quiet spaces for contemplation and nature appreciation to meet the needs and comfort of ALL.

Visit our Nature Park and Preserves

Each website has site maps and a list of amenities.

Annie Louise Wilkerson MD Nature Preserve

Durant Nature Preserve

Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve

Walnut Creek Wetland Park

Facility and Shelter Rentals

Annie Louise Wilkerson MD Rental Facilities 

Durant Nature Preserve Rental Facilities and Shelters

Walnut Creek Wetland Park

Current Projects

Walnut Creek Wetland Park – Walnut Creek Park Improvements

We Educate and Interpret

Wilkerson Natural Science Camp participant catching their first crayfish.

Wilkerson Natural Science Camp participant catching their first crayfish.

We develop educational programming that is hands-on, engaging, and diverse to accommodate the needs of our community. Our goal is to develop a city that is aware of and concerned about the local environment, and which has the knowledge, skills, attitudes, motivations, and commitment to work individually and collectively toward solutions for a more environmentally sustainable future.

Nature instructor leading a school group program at Durant Nature Preserve

Nature instructor leading a school group program at Durant Nature Preserve.

Group Programs

Our team offers a variety of programs that align with the North Carolina Science Standards.  These may be held at City Park and Preserve locations or in your school classrooms. Visit each site to learn more about their specific program offerings.

Annie Louise Wilkerson MD Nature Preserve group programs

Nature Programs Office group programs

Walnut Creek Wetland Park group programs

Individual and Family Public Programs

Our team supports a wide range of educational programs and events that bring participants of all ages and abilities into deeper connection and understanding of our natural world. Visit each site to learn more about current program offerings.

Annie Louise Wilkerson MD Nature Preserve Current Public Programs

Durant Nature Preserve Current Public Programs

Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve Current Public Programs

Walnut Creek Wetland Park Current Public Programs

group of teens in the nature with dip nets

Neighborhood Ecology Corps second-year cohort at Lake Johnson with dip nets.

Extended Year-round Programs

Neighborhood Ecology Corps at Walnut Creek The Neighborhood Ecology Corps (NEC) is a program for middle and high school students focused on building environmentally literate citizens with a holistic view of their communities through hands-on experiences. 

Red backpack leaned up against tree trunk

Explorer backpack kits are available for free on a first-come, first-served basis whenever the park is open.

Self-Guided Opportunities

Our sites offer a wide variety of opportunities for you to explore as an individual or as a group. There are walking trails, wildlife watching, or you can check out one of our binoculars, Explorer Backpacks, bug viewing boxes, and more.

Learn more about ecoEXPLORE and sign up today - Many of our sites are an ecoEXPLORE hot spot. ecoEXPLORE is a program where kids in grades K–8 can earn prizes and help scientists just by taking photos!

summer campers sitting on large rock

Wilkerson's Natural Science Summer Camp 2022.

Summer Camps

Annie Louise Wilkerson MD Nature Preserve Current Summer Camps 

Financial Assistance Application through Give Play for Summer Camps 

Nature-themed Birthday Party

Walnut Creek Wetland Park offers nature-themed birthday parties.

Accessibility

Raleigh Parks Inclusion Services works with community members to support participation. To request a program modification please complete and submit the Accommodation Request Form or contact Inclusion Services staff at 919-996-2147 or ParksInclusion@raleighnc.gov.

We Manage and Protect

safety person doing a prescribed field burn

Prescribed fire at Wilkerson Nature Preserve.

Our sites contain examples of high-quality plant and animal populations, natural communities, and ecosystems, that contribute to biodiversity and environmental health. We manage and protect our natural areas using best management practices, including invasive plant management and prescribed burning, so that we can sustainably balance the protection and enhancement of the natural areas while providing access to explore them.

Volunteer opportunities

Volunteer with us! Volunteers are fundamental to who we are, what we do, and how we do it. Find out about upcoming events to help us manage our sites through trash clean-ups, invasive species management, plantings, and more. You can also call us to set up a group volunteer experience at your preferred site.

Additional Learning Resources

Learn about prescribed fire as a management tool, its benefits, and use here in Raleigh.

Current projects

Durant Nature Preserve - Upper Lake Conversion Project

Accessibility

Raleigh Parks Inclusion Services works with community members to support participation. To request a program modification please complete and submit the Accommodation Request Form or contact Inclusion Services staff at 919-996-2147 or ParksInclusion@raleighnc.gov.

Nature Parks and Preserves

Hiking trail at Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve

Hiking trail at Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve.

Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park

157 acres of land along Falls Lake gifted to create its first designated nature preserve. Dr. Annie Louise Wilkerson, a renowned Raleigh doctor with many pioneering achievements in her 53-year career in medicine, stipulated in her will that the park be maintained as a "nature preserve park" used for the primary purpose of nature and wildlife education.

Fishing pier at Durant Nature Preserve

Fishing pier at Durant Nature Preserve.

Durant Nature Preserve

237-acre park with hardwood and pine forests, wildflowers and ferns, wetlands, and two lakes. A variety of habitats in the park provide wonderful wildlife viewing. Waterfowl, turtles, and fish can be seen at both lakes. Evidence of many mammals can be found along the creek banks and trails.

Open Field at Horseshoe Farm Park

View at Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve.

Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve

Carved out by the meandering Neuse River, the 146-acre Preserve sits on a U-shaped jewel of land in northeastern Wake County.  Exceptional natural resources include wetlands, hardwood forests, grasslands, and abundant wildlife.  Excellent birdwatching is available all year.  A restored farmhouse is home to nature education programs and interpretation of the land’s rich cultural heritage.  The site, awarded a SITES certification for sustainable design, features solar lighting, compost restrooms, and landscape features protecting wetlands.

The outside deck with rocking chairs

Rocking chairs on the publicly accessible deck at Walnut Creek Wetland Park.

Walnut Creek Wetland Park

A "green" built facility is within a 59-acre park boasts a variety of songbirds and hummingbirds, as well as raptors including red shouldered hawks, barred owls, and even the occasional bald eagle. Waterfowl including great blue herons, wood ducks, and geese are regularly sighted. Mammal visitors include deer, foxes, groundhogs, beaver, and more. A rich variety of reptiles and amphibians make their homes here as well.

Nature Connection

lake at Durant Nature Preserve

Lake at Durant Nature Preserve.

To continue our mission of connecting you to our parks and nature preserves, enjoy these nature-themed activities, how-to videos, and educational tidbits about our native flora and fauna. ​​​​​​

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Nature Connection Videos

Annual Reports

Connecting people to nature today to preserve nature for people tomorrow.
Check out our Annual Reports
2019-2020
2020-2021
2021-2022

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