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.

Apr. 1–30: The Dawn Chorus, written and illustrated by Suzanne Barton

Cover image of the book The Dawn Chorus, written and illustrated by Suzanne Barton

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.

Amazing Amphibians!
Wednesday, Mar. 22, 3–3:45 p.m.

Join Harris Lake County Park staff and hop on over to learn about our local amphibians: frogs, toads, and salamanders! We’ll explore their life cycles, adaptations, and role and importance in the ecosystem, and discover what they can tell us about our environment. You’ll even to get to virtually “meet” some up close! 

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.

Every Day is Earth Day: Recycling and Composting
Friday, April 21, 1–2 p.m.

Join us for a fun primer as we lead up to Earth Day and learn more about two ways that everyone can reduce their environmental impact at home: recycling and composting! We'll play a recycling game to test your knowledge, see the ways that we compost food items and natural materials at the park, and take a peek inside our "vermicompost" bin to see the worms at work. This is a teacher workday for Wake County Public Schools. For all ages. Meet at the picnic tables in the Educational Garden. 

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: Little Cloud
Thursday, April 13, 11 a.m.–noon

It’s time for April showers! Join us as we explore many different types of weather. Together we will read Little Cloud by Eric Carle, a beautifully illustrated story filled with imagination. Then, we will go on a cloud hunt and make a craft to take home. For ages 2–5. Meet at the Cypress Shelter.

Kids Discover Nature: The Busy Tree
Thursday, May 11, 11 a.m.–noon

Explore the wonderful world of trees with park staff! Together we will read The Busy Tree by Jennifer Ward, a sweet story about the many creatures that make their home in trees. Participants will sing songs, make a craft, and take a hike to search for different types of trees in the park. Don’t miss it! For ages 2–5. Meet at the Cypress Shelter.

Kids Discover Nature: Fish is Fish
Thursday, June 8, 11 a.m.–noon

Join us as we explore what makes a fish a fish! Together we will read Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni, a beautifully illustrated story of mystery and imagination. Try your hand at reeling in a colorful fish! For ages 2–5. 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.

Nature Lab: Kids Get Holiday Crafty
Thursday, Dec. 22, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. 

Cost: $16/child

Bring your kids to the park for a day of crafting and nature while you take advantage of a few more hours of holiday shopping. The crafts your child creates will make great keepsakes or gifts. We will provide a snack, hot chocolate, and all the supplies! Each child should bring a lunch and a box to take your creations home. For ages 6–10. Meet at the Park Office (first right after you enter the park).

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.