Durant Nature Preserve
North Raleigh park offers easy hiking on primitive trails with lake views
I was going through the backlog of hikes I planned on posting on the blog, and I was shocked to discover that I did this Durant Nature Preserve hike in September! I am seriously that behind on posts, and I'm also amazed at how quickly this fall has disappeared.
I met my dad early one morning in September for a Sunday stroll in Durant Nature Preserve in north Raleigh. I'd seen signs for it off Capital Boulevard every time I went to to the WRAL soccer park complex, and finally curiosity got the best of me and I decided to check it out.
Durant Nature Preserve was originally a Boy Scouts camp and was purchased by Raleigh in 1979. In 2010 it was designated as a nature preserve to protect the flora and fauna. I hadn't even made it out of the parking lot before I found some of the resident fauna in the form of a box turtle.
The main attraction of the park is the lake and the natural areas surrounding it. My dad and I hadn't been out on a hike together in a while so the goal was just to do a couple easy miles. The trails in Durant Nature Preserve are all relatively short (the longest trail is Border Trail at 1.88 miles) and loop together so you could do any combination of trails and make your own distance.
My dad and I headed out of the parking lot onto White House Road trail, intending to connect with Lakeside Trail (because duh...lake!). We looked out over a quiet lake while an osprey wheeled overhead.
We made it across the lake and then were promptly confused by the slew of trails interconnecting. The trail map makes it look like there's some space between the trail crossings, but the park is smaller so the trail crossings are tangled together, and all the signs say "To Lakeside Trail" or "To Border Trail" without specifying the actual trail at the crossing. Once I'd figured out the actual trails converging we turned and headed down Lakeside Trail.
It was a nice easy loop with plenty of lake views that curled around to the boat house and dock where kids ran around making little joyful noises and casting lines into the water.
My dad and I took it easy and just did two miles, but it was a satisfying two miles with plenty of lake views, bird watching, and some butterflies and spiders scattered along the edges of the woods.
The trail markings were a little confusing at first, but now that I know my way around the park I'll probably go back and explore a little more this winter. Maybe next time I'll get some decent lake shots and maybe catch a photo of an osprey or two!
Get there: Durant Nature Preserve is in Raleigh, NC. The main entrance is off Durant Road, but there's also an entrance on Spottswood Street.
Distance: The trails range from 0.15 to 1.88 miles, but can be looped together. Total there are about 5 miles of hiking trails in the park.
Dog friendly? Yes, but dogs must be leashed.
Kid friendly? Yes, and there are various nature and sensory gardens which may provide some place for distraction and play.
Tips: The trail signs point you to main trails in the park and not every trail or trail crossing is marked. The trail crossings are also closer together than it looks like on the map, so be familiar with the map before you head out.
What else can you do in the area? Check out Raleigh or go play a game at the WRAL soccer park!