Return to Durant Nature Preserve

Dog-Human Hike I: Durant Nature Preserve via North entrance


A couple weeks ago we had what might be termed a ‘walkabout’ in Durant Nature Preserve near our home in North Raleigh. We expected to go for a short evening walk; but the park impressed us so much that the operation turned into a much longer than anticipated hike and we barely made it back to our car by the time the park gates closed at 9 pm.

We barely had enough light left to photograph the final moments of our first Durant Nature Preserve hike.

So last week we went back for another look, this time entering the park from the North side. Entry here is by a dirt road called the “Camp Durant Road.” This is a holdover from the days when the area was a boy scout camp; the old dirt road is still there; but on either side of it, through a screen of trees, now sits a housing development.

Near bottom the road becomes paved again before crossing the Sims Branch Greenway, which we’ve never so much as set foot on. We’ll check that out some other time.

The North side of the Park is the more heavily used, and the parking lot here is bigger. But just as we found a couple weeks back, the area does not seem to be heavily used. There were more cars than we saw last time but still the lot was almost empty.


Fitz, as usual, was ready to set out and see something.


We turned onto the Border Trail – the other end of which we’d started up last time we visited, but had to abandon due to waning daylight.


As the name suggests, this trail follows the boundary of the park. At one point you can see the Sims Branch Greenway maybe 200 feet away through the trees.

Sylvia and Brian were mindful of copperheads…a person who works with Brian recently had a dog bitten by one, and this is the second time that has happened to a friend of ours. Fortunately, both dogs recovered. Copperhead bites on dogs are a very common problem in Raleigh. We almost never see them, but dogs can easily sniff them out, and this leads to them being bitten, often in the face.

Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix CDC-a.png
Agkistrodon contortrix…The Caaaahpuh-head, as we say in Boston (Where we don’t have ’em.) Public Health Image Library (PHIL), a division of the CDC via Wikipedia Common

North Carolina actually leads the entire nation in the number of recorded snake bites on humans…and Wake County (ours) leads the entire state. But none were sighted this time.

After following the Border trail for a while, we somehow got turned off and ended up back at the side of the Preserve’s good-sized ponds. We took the trail that follows the South side of the bigger pond; this is what we’d intended to do last time, but Brian became ‘misplaced’ in the twilight and we ended up taking the North Shore Trail.

Those surrounded by development on all sides, Durant Nature Park feels surprisingly isolated,.
Woods in the middle of ‘old field succession’



The South Shore Trail is much better, running very close to the shore. And it would be even better if the lake were not partially drained due to ongoing work on the dam at the other end. The views across the pond to the old scout camp on the other side are very nice. This would have a been a great place to be a scout, back in the days when this area was far less developed.





At one point we had to stop Fitz to allow a herd of four deer run across the trail in front of us and bolt up a slope.

We re-crossed the damn in the opposite direction that we did last week and made it back to the parking lot in plenty of time. The thunderstorms that threatened never materialized. On the whole walk we passed only one other person.


Brian falls afoul of park regulations regarding balloons by ‘not sucking in his barriga’ yet again.

We STILL haven’t seen the whole preserve, we’re up to about two-thirds of it at this point. We’ll return to see the rest of it soon!


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