Harris Lake Public Programs

Photo of staff and kids at public program

Harris Lake County Park offers programs covering nature, history and recreational topics. Public programs are open for registration to the general public.

Registration for Public Programs & Reminders

Public Program Registration & Reminders

To register for one of our public programs, click the button below the program description to be taken to the registration page on our online registration website.

Having trouble registering for a program online? Contact the park office at 919-387-4342 or email us at harris.lake@wake.gov for assistance.

Important Program Reminders:

  • For Family Programs, every participant must be registered online in advance.
  • "Walk ups" (those not registered online but show up) may not be able to participate in the program. Register early!
  • Pets are not permitted at programs.
  • If a program has a minimum age, children who do not meet the minimum will not be allowed to participate. Children who do meet the age requirement must have a parent or guardian with them in the program. Age limits are established for safety and program content.

Self-Guided Activities


Photo of a young man who has found a hidden geocache

The hunt is on during this high-tech "treasure" hunting game, where park visitors come equipped with GPS devices in search of hidden geocaches! The geocaches located in Harris Lake County Park are hidden containers that have been approved by park staff and placed on park property for your exploration and enjoyment. Geocaches can be of varied sizes and hidden in easy to difficult-to-find places. Use GPS devices to help find these hidden containers and then record your find on the paper log provided in the geocache. Some geocaches have little items, such as toys and stickers, that you can collect and replenish as you play, so the activity can be a real "treasure hunt." This activity can be self-guided by getting coordinates from Geocaching.com and bringing your own GPS unit, or you can participate in one of our scheduled “Geocaching 101” public programs.

To learn more about geocaching, watch this short introductory video created by Park Manager Christina Hester.

Placing a Geocache
Geocaching on Wake County Park property is handled on a park-by-park basis. Please visit a specific park's website or contact them directly to learn about their geocaching policies.

Geocaching is an accepted recreational activity at Harris Lake County Park though at this time, no additional/new geocaches will be approved until further notice. The park maintains a maximum number of caches on park property. Those wishing to establish a new cache must receive approval from Harris Lake County Park prior to placing a cache. To obtain the approval you must complete and submit a Geocache Placement Request Form to the park office. Please refer to this form for more information.


Photo of Harris Lake County Park orienteering course marker #1

If you love the outdoors, exploring and map reading, then orienteering is for you! Orienteering is the sport of navigating through an unfamiliar area using a map and perhaps a compass. The object is to make your way through a series of points identified on a map and return to the finish line in the shortest amount of time possible. The route of your journey is up to you.

Orienteering is sometimes called, “the art of map and compass reading.” This fun outdoor recreational activity dates back more than 100 years and uses “low-tech” tools to navigate the landscape. Often set as a timed challenge, orienteering is a fun way to exercise and build wilderness survival skills. Finding the points and markers is a sort of “treasure hunt” for participants of all ages.

Harris Lake County Park’s Orienteering course includes a short course (5 waypoints) and a long course (16 waypoints) that navigate you to different parts of the park, including wooded, field and play areas. They are accessible at all times of the year that the park is open. You can use our Harris Lake County Park Orienteering Course brochure as a guide for getting started, as well as our printable course sheets to fill in the points as you find them. Each point has a rubbing – try to collect them all!

Orienteering Short Course (5 waypoints)

Orienteering Long Course (16 waypoints)

Group Orienteering
Group Orienteering

Mobile Tours

"Official" graphic for the Harris Lake County Park mobile tours

Take a mobile tour and see the park through a new lens!

Harris Lake County Park has three interactive cell phone tours that you can access from home or while you're at the park. You can access each tour from the hyperlink title below.

Local Tree Loop
This tour was created to introduce some of the special trees we have in North Carolina and help you identify them in the future. This tour follows the paved trail around the Educational Garden and begins at the Cypress parking lot side of the garden.

Educational Garden Tour
Along this tour, you will learn about some of the history of the park, some of the plants in the garden, and great ways to help wildlife in your backyard.

Cypress Tree Trail
Test your knowledge and learn more about some of our common trees.

Red Fox Run Interpretive Trail
Discover more about the plants and animals found at the park.

Womble Interpretive History Trail
Explore life on a farm as you learn about one of the families that lived on the property before it became a park.

Mobile tours have also been developed for other park sites and you can view them all here.

For more activities you can enjoy from the comfort of your home, visit Harris Lake From Home and find all of our Wake County Parks From Home pages at Wake Parks From Home.

Go For a StoryWalk®

The graphic for Harris Lake County Park StoryWalk®

Take a self-guided StoryWalk® at Harris Lake County Park! A StoryWalk® is a children’s book that is presented page by page along a trail or path. It combines the pleasures of reading a children's book while enjoying nature. Every other month, the paved trails in our Day Use (shelter) area or the paths in and around our Educational Garden and Natural Play Area will feature a different illustrated children's book. Interactive activities are included at the bottom of each set of storybook pages to further engage your child as you make your way through the book. StoryWalk® will be available during current park hours. Beginning in August 2022, you can go for a StoryWalk® at the New Hill trailhead of the American Tobacco Trail located just 10 minutes from Harris Lake County Park (1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Road)!

The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.

Oct. 1–29: I (Don't) Like Snakes, written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Luciano Lozano

Cover image of the book I (Don't) Like Snakes by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Luciano Lozano

Adventure Backpacks

Photo of the self-guided activities available in the Bug Out! Adventure Backpack at Harris Lake County Park

Parents and teachers, would you like to enhance your visit to the park? Our four new Adventure Backpacks contain self-guided educational activities complete with instructions, equipment, guides, and take-home activities for further enrichment.

Choose from the following offerings:

  • Birds of Wonder Explore the wonderful world of birds! Go birdwatching with binoculars, learn how to keep birds safe, practice your worm-hunting skills, and more!

  • Bug Out! Be an insect investigator! Go on a big hunt to safely catch insects, discover how to create insect habitat in your own backyard, play a game to move like different insects (Can you fly like a dragonfly? Scurry like a roach?), and make a fun craft and insect-themed snack with take-home activities!

  • Exploration Learn how to be a nature detective as you explore the park! Participate in a special challenge to decipher clues as you visit different areas of the park, make your own scat, and more!

  • Journey to the Past Embark on a journey to the homesite of a family who lived on this land before it became a park. Play games of this bygone era, go on a scavenger hunt, try your hand at our "history mystery", and use props to play make believe at the Womble family Wash House!

Adventure Backpacks are located in a bin at the Park Office building (first right after you enter). Stop by anytime during park hours to sign one out and begin your adventure! 

Virtual Public Programs

Wild Wednesday Program Series

Join us for our Virtual Wild Wednesday Program Series! Virtual public programs will be interactive, including games, stories, activities, and/or live specimens with suggestions for further enrichment and an invitation to explore the outdoors. Zoom meeting links and other pertinent information provided upon registration.

Going Batty
Wednesday, Oct. 25, 4–4:45 p.m.

We’ll dispel some common bat myths that give bats a bad rap and tell you how great they are to have around us as we discuss bat facts, virtually explore bat habitats, and examine some specimens from our nature collection. 

Other Program Opportunities

Family Programs

Designed for families to enjoy together, these programs are geared toward all ages, unless a minimum age is specified. For Family Programs, all participants must be registered online in advance.

Each family member attending must be registered in advance through our online system.

Super Spiders
Monday, Oct. 9, 6–7 p.m.

Spiders are not so scary when you get to know them! They have important jobs in nature. We will read a super spider story, observe some spiders up close, and look for spiders around the park. For all ages. Meet at the Cypress Shelter. 

Spooky Soiree Mini Event
Saturday, Oct. 14, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

"Don't Feed Your Fears" and join us for a Spooky Soiree mini event during our Harris Spook-tacular! Meet some not-so-spooky creeping crawly critters up close, create fun, seasonal crafts, try your hand at some ghastly games, and board our wagon for a special scavenger hunt along the back roads of the park! Find all of the "hidden" spooky items on your card to win a prize! Spaces are limited on the wagon, so preregister for the time slot of your choice. Scavenger hunt wagon rides will run every 20 minutes. Costumes are encouraged!

Register on the event page for the wagon ride time slot of your choice. All riders (children and adults) must be registered due to wagon capacity. Children must be accompanied by an adult. No pets permitted, except service animals.  

Birding for All at Harris Lake County Park
Friday, Oct. 20, 9:30–11 a.m.

Celebrate the Year of the Trail and Birdability Week 2023 with Wake County Parks! Join park staff on a bird outing to look for our year-round species, as well as migratory visitors. Birders of all experience levels are welcome! This outing will be < 1 mile on flat, paved trails and the fishing pier. Our route will be fully accessible for wheelchairs and others with mobility concerns. We will spend some time scanning the lake for waterfowl, so if you have a spotting scope please bring it! Binoculars will be available to borrow for anyone who needs them. For all ages. Meet at the Loblolly Shelter.   

Pumpkin Carving Wagon Ride
Sunday, Oct. 22, 1:30-3 p.m.

Celebrate the season with a wagon ride along the back roads of our park to search for a hidden pumpkin, then return to the Loblolly Shelter to carve a Halloween masterpiece with your family. Each family will be limited to one pumpkin. (You may bring additional pumpkins of your own to carve.) For all ages.     

Kids Discover Nature

This monthly series for children ages 2–5 with accompanying adult introduces them to the natural world through stories, hikes, crafts and games.

The adult does not register for these programs.

Kids Discover Nature: Pumpkin Circle
Thursday, Oct. 5, 11 a.m.–noon

"We can be sure of this: It's a circle without end. It's pumpkin seeds to pumpkins and to pumpkin seeds again!" Get ready for fall by learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin through George Levenson's Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden, then plant a pumpkin seed to take home and watch it grow. Meet at the Cypress Shelter. 

Kids Discover Nature: Fall Leaves Fall
Thursday, Nov. 2, 11 a.m.–noon

Join us as we explore the beautiful colors of fall! We will read Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall and go on a short hike in search of fallen leaves to incorporate in a craft featuring our fantastic fall foliage! Meet at the Cypress Shelter. 

Kids Discover Nature: When Winter Comes
Thursday, Dec. 7, 11 a.m.–noon

What happens to plants and animals when winter arrives? Come find out as we read When Winter Comes by Nancy Van Laan. We will also go on a nature scavenger hunt and have fun exploring the park! Meet at the Cypress Shelter. 

Kids Drop-Off Programs

Photo of two boys using nets at one of the park ponds dipping for aquatic critters

These programs allow older children to explore nature on a higher level and are designed for them to attend on their own, without parent participation.

Stay tuned for future kids drop-off programs!

Citizen Science Thursday

Photo of bird nests inside one of the park's nest boxes

Volunteer your time with our monitoring and citizen science projects. Tasks will vary depending on what needs attention but may include: cleaning or repairing habitat boxes or installing new ones, monitoring our current boxes, gathering data on wildlife and plants found in the park to contribute to our Natural Resources Inventory Database, or assisting with other relevant tasks. Come prepared to learn and work as you manage our natural resources! Dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes and bring work gloves and a water bottle. All participants must have a signed Volunteer Release.

Each family member attending must be registered in our online system.

Preregistration is required and no walk-ups will be accepted. To keep participants and staff as safe as possible, we ask that you:

  • Stay home if you’re not feeling well.
  • Alert staff immediately if you start to feel ill during programming.

There are no Citizen Science Thursday programs available at this time. Please check back for future offerings.

Adult & Educator Workshops

Photo of adults listening to an instructor under one of the park's picnic shelters

Harris Lake County Park periodically offers programs and workshops for adults and older teens, many of which are eligible for NC Environmental Education Certification or CEU credits.

No Adult or Educator Workshops are available at this time. Please check back for future offerings. In the meantime, see our other Public Program offerings.

Become a Junior Park Explorer!

Junior Park Explorer graphic

Do you like to explore parks and preserves? Do you like winning prizes? Our Junior Park Explorers program is for you! Learn more here.