Yates Mill is one of those rare gems where there is enough history to keep adults intrigued and enough fun to keep little kids interested.This is the second Wake County Park I have found that caters to young children as well as adults (Oak View is the other one). I would even go so far as to say that these two Wake County Parks outshine most NC State Parks and Raleigh City Parks.
Yates Mill is a functional water-driven grist mill that was built before the Revolutionary War. It's obviously been renovated and preserved since then, especially after Hurricane Fran did a number on it. Severe weather still has a significant impact on this park as the recent tornadoes in the late spring of 2011 have closed the Creekside Trail indefinitely.
The Mill itself is open on Saturdays and Sundays for tours. It just so happened that we were there on a weekday while a private tour was going on and we were able to see the water wheel turning. We also got to see local area teachers working on an archaeological dig.
|an excavation in progress|
After seeing the Mill, we took the Millpond Trail, a mile long circuit that skirts the edge of the pond and at one point crosses the pond via a boardwalk. It's an easy hike over easy terrain, even with my small wheeled stroller. Along the way we saw butterflies, lizards, and lots of odd shaped and brightly colored fungi.
The visitor's center is huge and looks very new. A video in the center shows how the machinery in Yates Mill grinds corn.There are lots of hands-on activities for little kids in the center that focus on grinding corn and grain. There is also a dress-up area where little ones can try on colonial clothes. All of this fun allows adults to peruse the many placards about the Mill's history and about milling in general. You can even read about a Civil War era murder mystery surrounding the Mill.
All of the necessary amenities can be found at the Park including picnic tables, clean restrooms, and a water fountain inside the visitor's center. The Park also conducts educational programs for children and adults. There is a fee to tour the Mill which you can find out about on the website.
Even if you come on a weekday when the Mill isn't open, the scenery, the educational material, and the wildlife make Yates Mill a worthwhile trip - one that I would put at the top of my list.