Park Feature: Hemlock Bluffs

Looking to walk your dog, take a hike, or just escape in the shade? This nature preserve has you covered.

Looking to walk your dog, take a hike, or just escape in the shade? This nature preserve has you covered.

Located off of Kildaire Farm Rd, Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve is 140 acres of diverse ecology, trails, wildlife, and scenic overlooks. The area is named after the abundance of Eastern Hemlock trees that are typically found in cooler mountain climates. The cool bluffs provide a microclimate that enables the Eastern Hemlocks to thrive, which is what makes the area so unique. The trees origins can be traced back to over 10,000 years!

One of the Eastern Hemlocks located near the entrance

If we’re being technical, Hemlock Bluffs is not a park, but a State Nature Preserve that is managed by the town of Cary. The amenities found here are similar to what you may find at a more traditional park, with 3 miles of hiking trails, a nature center, bathrooms, water fountains, and many scenic overlooks to enjoy the views. This isn’t a place to play yard games or ride your bike (only walking is allowed on the trails), but somewhere to enjoy a more passive experience.

Part of the East Hemlock Bluffs Overlook, near the entrance of the Swift Creek Loop Trail

There are three trails located at Hemlock Bluffs. One trail, the Swift Creek Loop Trail, is a .8 mile loop that you can enter by climbing down (and eventually back up) many stairs under the bluffs. The trail itself is flat, but the stairs that you will have to climb up after you’ve done the loop will leave even seasoned hikers sweating. There is the Chestnut Oak Loop Trail, which is a little more than a mile long which passes through the other two smaller trails, the Beech Tree Cove Trail and the West Hemlock Overlook. Expect to see birds, deer, and snakes on your hike.

While the Swift Creek Loop Trail requires many stairs to access, the rest of the trails do not require any stairs (though they are available to access optional overlooks) and has gentle hills.

You can visit the official website here, and learn more about the non-profit assisting in the preservation of Hemlock Bluffs here.

The entrance is located on 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd, Cary NC. The park is open 365 days a year, from 9:00 AM until sunset.

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