Hike up to 3 lush miles of mulched, family-friendly trails cloaked in Eastern Hemlock trees and other mountain plant species at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. Listen to bird wildlife and meander through the woods to a burbling creek. Stop by the Stevens Nature Center while you're there to view interactive exhibits from North Carolina's Piedmont region. Be sure to bring bug spray.
The .8-mile Swift Creek Loop Trail offers views of Hemlock trees and Swift Creek, but be prepared to take 100 stairs both down and up. Below the steps, the level floodplain terrain makes for an easy hike.
Chestnut Oak Loop Trail extends 1.2 miles through ridged upland forests, ravines and creeks and claims mild inclines and a views of Swift Creek's tributaries.
Beech Tree Cove Trail covers .9 mile and is stroller-accessible with an optional 41-stairstep down to an additional overlook.
The West Hemlock Overlook is the shortest at .7 mile, and offers views of the West Bluffs and Hemlock trees. Take just 19 stairs down an overlook.
Nature programs and classes are held regularly in the Stevens Nature Center, which features interactive nature and historical exhibits from North Carolina's Piedmont region.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 am - 5 pm; Sunday 1-5 pm.
Bring bug spray—although it's not as buggy in the fall.