I know how hard it is to get young kids out of the house to go somewhere - even quick outings require you to pack enough snacks, diapers, and toys to make you think you’ll be gone for a week. And who wants to wrestle kids in and out of carseats just to find out that your destination isn’t kid-friendly? That’s why I’ve decided to visit Triangle area sites to see if they’re worth your trip. I won’t use a rating system but I’ll try to describe what you’ll see well enough for you to decide if your kids would find it interesting. I’ll also give you the heads up on bathrooms, stroller accessibility and any other SNAFUs I encounter.


Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve - Cary

Stevens Nature Center at Hemlock Bluffs

        My preschooler wanted to practice being a trail leader again, so I decided to take the kids to this wilderness park that I discovered several weeks ago by accident. The main attraction at this park are the  200 - 400 year-old hemlock trees that grow here and nowhere else in NC except in the western part of the state. Most of the park is on an elevated rise which probably provides for beautiful views in the Fall or Winter when the vegetation is not so dense. On the day we went in spring, the weather was warm, but walking the trails kept us under the forest canopy and out of direct sunlight.The preserve has a Nature Center, clean bathrooms, a classroom, and is very welcoming to leashed dogs.

       Stroller accessibility on the trails we walked was pretty good, even with my clunky stroller. The trails are wide and mulched. There were only two places where I left the stroller and carried my toddler down to the observation decks because it just made more sense than fighting the stroller down the steps only to bring it right back up again.We took the Chestnut Oak Trail which is the longest and also encompasses the West Hemlock Trail. The only trail we didn't go on was the East Hemlock trail which, it turns out, was where all the wildlife sightings were. I talked to a mom and her children who had seen a family of deer and a snake on the East Trail. The closest we got to wildlife was a quick peek at a very fast lizard and a whiff of skunk on the wind. The fact that we didn't see wildlife is not surprising given the creaking of my stroller, the wailing of my toddler, and the chatter of my preschooler. 

     If I lived close to this park I would probably stop by every once-in-awhile for a quick outing, but if Hemlock Bluffs isn't close to you, come see it once in the Fall or Winter when you can take advantage of the views provided by bare trees. If I want to show my kids wildlife I need a bit more of a sure thing - like an animal kept in a cage.

taxidermy deer inside the Stevens Center - the only wildlife we saw

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