Duke Forest

Durham, North Carolina 27708

Duke Forest

Duke Forest Professional Review and Guide

"In the 1920s, Duke Forest was formed from farms and woods to buffer the developing campus of Duke University. Clarence F. Korstian led the establishment of the university’s School of Forestry in 1938, and today the tracts are an invaluable laboratory for students and scientists.

The forest is open only from dawn to dusk. Managers ask that mountain bikers stay strictly on the area’s road-width fire trails, many built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Bushwhacking, cross-country hiking, or geocaching are prohibited to protect research plots throughout the forest. Enter only at the designated public access points, and do not block gates with vehicles. Dogs must be on-leash. Developed picnic facilities can be rented and are the only locations where open fires are permitted. Please read and heed the forest rules that are prominently posted at all access gates."

Duke Forest Reviews

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This place is really beautiful. The nature trail is great for kids and even adults who want to learn more. The forest areas are deep and green and the other trails aren't difficult. There are streams and lots of wildlife around. You can't picture a more beautiful spot to enjoy nature.
What a great hike. We even hit the cc trail.
Duke Forest Teaching and Research Laboratory is over 7,000 acres of managed forest owned by Duke University in Durham, and used for forestry research, environmental education, and public recreation. Duke Forest is easily one of the best things about living in the Triangle. There are many separate trails of varying length and difficulty that traverse the forest throughout it's 3 county span. Entry is through "gates" located on public roads and parking is along roadside shoulders. Many of the trails are actually wide, well cleared fire roads. There are very limited facilities, notably picnic shelters and outhouses at several sites for group outings. Cell phone coverage can be frustrating but trails are well marked, reasonably busy and quite safe. Much of the area is old farmsteads from the 18th through the very early 20th centuries so there can be areas of recovering new growth mixed in with older hardwood forest. Birds, insects and some major wildlife abound here. Several major creeks cross many of the trails. Closures of the forest can happen on weekdays during fall hunting season but they usually are always open on weekends. Cool respites from Piedmont summer heat along with outstanding fall foliage viewing opportunities. Excellent maps available from the University for a small fee.

Duke Forest Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
1-5 miles
Several options
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
Office of Duke Forest, Duke University; (919) 613-8013; dukeforest.duke edu. Closure’s due to logging and other activities are listed on the site.
Local Contacts
USGS Northwest Durham, Hillsborough, and Chapel Hill. The best map of Duke Forest can be purchased from the website below (recent changes are shown on the site’s downloadable maps)
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018