Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

Cary, North Carolina 27518

Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Explore this first-rate preserve harboring unique Piedmont habitat, now nestled in the heart of Cary. A kid-friendly nature center presents programs that enhance the well-marked and maintained trails sightseeing the state preserve, from the bluffs clad in eastern hemlock to wildflower-filled flats to oak-topped hills.

Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve has arguably the best laid out, marked, and maintained trail system in the greater Triangle area. You will be amazed at the wide mulch paths complemented by elaborate stairs on several steep sections. Other portions of pathway have uber-sturdy boardwalks over wetlands. Sumptuous overlook decks enhance the footpaths."

More Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Birding North Carolina (Falcon Guides)
Edited by Marshall Brooks and Mark Johns
"Hemlock Bluffs is a state nature preserve that is managed by the Town of Cary through a lease arrangement with the state of North Carolina. The bluffs, which harbor a disjunct population of Eastern hemlock, divide the preserve into upland areas with pines, mixed pine-hardwood and oak-hickory woodlands, and the floodplain along Swift Creek. Elevated observation platforms allow for good treetop-level birding, which is advantageous during spring migration.The Swift Creek Loop Trail takes you through a brief stretch of mature oak and hickory woodlands with canopy gaps before you get to the bluffs, which can yield looks at Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos and Scarlet and Summer Tanagers in summer. The gaps and associated snags offer a year-round attraction to woodpeckers, including the Red-headed Woodpecker."
Peter Reylek and Lauren Reylek
"This beautiful preserve in southern Cary is one of the few places where you can see mountain plant species in the Piedmont. Begin your hike with the short Swift Creek Loop Trail, which offers magnificent views as it descends the bluffs. Then take a short walk to the Chestnut Oak Loop Trail, a longer wooded hike with several more scenic overlooks. Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve is named for its stand of eastern hemlocks, a species normally indigenous to the mountains. The eastern bluffs overlooking Swift Creek provide a cool, moist microclimate where mountain species thrive. The trails here are wide and well maintained. The beautiful Stevens Nature Center is the first thing you will see when you arrive at the park. The nature center features a native wildflower garden, as well as classrooms and exhibits. The surrounding gardens and first trail segments are wheelchair accessible, but the loop trails themselves are not, as they have stairs and some rough patches."
Joshua Kinser
"This is a very enjoyable walk through the ridges and ravines of Cary’s upland forest."

Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve Trip Reports

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Nice area for shorter walks. Lots of nice views.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
1.5-2 hours
Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary, NC 27518; (919) 387-5980; www.townofcary.org
Local Contacts
Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve; USGS Apex
Local Maps

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