From Sarah C.:
In north Raleigh just below Falls Lake sits a 157 acre nature preserve donated to the city by a well renowned doctor – Dr. Annie Louise Wilkerson. It’s a beautiful expanse to explore any time of year, but I bet will be even more amazing in the coming months as everything begins to bloom again.
We set out for a Saturday morning family adventure to explore the trails, but stopped first at the play area. It fits beautifully into the Preserve and encourages imagination. The general idea of the tree stumps reminded me of the natural section of the Pittsboro Kiwanis Playground. There are also logs to climb & balance on, stepping stones, a teepee made of sticks (which appeared to have vines to grow up it soon!) and a fun arched vine tunnel. Truly, all 3 of us had fun playing here and now we’re talking of creating our own teepee for our backyard!
Once we decided on a trail to explore, the map we picked up near the play area actually ended up being more for interest of my son than necessary. There are signs and clearly marked paths. He enjoyed comparing the map to the signs to “read” which way we had to go and leading us. We chose the Pond Trail as it was the shortest and seemed a simple trek with a 3.5 year old. A small segment included stepping on 4 rocks to cross a low “creek” which he really thought was cool.
When we returned to the parking lot, we stopped into the office for more information on the park programs. Grateful we did as there is more to see inside! The main room offers educational materials such as books and toys to help teach children. There are also a number of items available to checkout for free including a backpack for kids with binoculars, bug box, magnifying glass, cards to help identify wildlife, etc.
What caught D‘s eye was a table set up on one side of the room with craft supplies. This particular day the craft was creating a rain stick. He jumped right in and started on one along side a girl who looked close to his age. There were crayons, colored pencils, colored paper, and decorative tape for use. The staff member in the office told me that there is regularly a free craft offered and it changes about once a month.
The Preserve also offers a number of programs for all ages. I learned that the preschooler ones tend to fill up quickly. Check out Raleigh’s Leisure Ledger for the full listing of programs offered at all City of Raleigh Park facilities including Wilkerson Nature Preserve and plan to register early.
Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park
5229 Awls Haven Road
Raleigh, NC 27614
Tue – Sat 10a-dusk and Sun 1p-dusk
Note: the park is closed on Mondays