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, except service animals, 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

Geocaching

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.

Orienteering

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 its hyperlinked 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.

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.

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.

*Please note that this series is on hiatus while we evaluate the demand for virtual public programs.

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.

Exploring the Pond
Saturday, June 15, 10–11:30 a.m.

Discover the fascinating world of aquatic critters as we scoop in the pond to observe who lives there up close. View some of the tiniest critters under a microscope. You won't believe your eyes! Space is limited so register early! All participants (children and adults) must be registered in our online system. For all ages. Meet at the pond at the Cypress Shelter.

The Buzz on Native Bees
Friday, June 21, 10–11 a.m.

June is National Pollinator Month! Join us in celebrating the bees that play a vital role in our ecosystems, economies, and agriculture. North Carolina is home to over 560 different species of bees. Some form colonies while others are solitary, nesting in the ground, wood, or pithy stems. Learn to identify the most common groups of bees in NC, their nesting habits, and the valuable pollination services they provide. We’ll discuss the environmental conditions bees need to thrive and discover simple ways humans can positively influence bee populations at home. Space is very limited! For ages 10 and up. Meet at the picnic tables in the Educational Garden. 

Plants and Animals to Watch Out For
Sunday, July 28, 2–3 p.m.

"Leaves of three, let it be." Most people are familiar with this handy rhyme to remember plants you shouldn't touch. Learn how to be safe around common plants and animals (such as ticks, spiders and snakes) you encounter in the woods by seeing some up close and looking for real examples on a short hike. Registration in our online system is required for all participants. For all ages, but better suited for 5 and over. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring a full water bottle. Meet at the picnic tables in the Educational Garden (near the restrooms). 

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: Box Turtle at Long Pond
Thursday, July 11, 11 a.m.–noon

How are box turtles so good at playing hide and seek? And what kind of foods do they eat? Find out the answers to these questions as we read Box Turtle at Long Pond by William T. George. We'll also do some turtley awesome activities and meet Sheldon, the park's ambassador box turtle! Meet at the Cypress Shelter.

Kids Discover Nature: All the Water in the World
Thursday, Aug. 1, 11 a.m.–noon

Where does water come from and where does it go? How is it used and how does it flow? Join us to find out as we read All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon and Katherine Tillotson. Afterwards, we'll make a craft and play some water games. Prepare to get wet! Meet at the Cypress Shelter.

Kids Discover Nature: How to be a Nature Detective
Thursday, Sept. 5, 11 a.m.–noon

Do you love a good mystery and do you love exploring nature? If you said yes, join us for some sleuthing fun as we read How to be a Nature Detective, written by Millicent E. Selsam and beautifully illustrated by Marlene Hill Donnelly. Once we learn some detective skills and see what clues animals leave behind, we'll go on a scavenger hunt and try to solve some nature mysteries! 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: Fabulous Fish
Tuesday, July 23, 9 a.m.– 1 p.m.

Spend time at Harris Lake County Park learning what it takes to be a great angler! Discover the fish species we have here at the park, learn about our lake and pond ecosystems, practice your best cast, and then hike to our stocked pond to go fishing for catfish. Fishing poles and bait will be provided, or you may bring your own. This is a drop-off program for ages 7-11. Send a snack, lunch, and full water bottle with your child. More information will be sent in advance of the program. Meet at the Cypress Shelter.

Water Wonders
Tuesday, July 30, 10 a.m.–noon

Join us at Harris Lake County Park as we explore the wonders of water through educational activities and some for just plain fun! We will dip for critters in our pond to discover what lives beneath the surface and play water games to cool off. This is a drop-off program for ages 6–10. Please send a snack and full water bottle with your child, and dress to get wet! Meet at the Cypress Shelter.

Citizen Science Thursday

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

Interested in becoming a citizen scientist and improving your nature identification skills with park staff? We’ve got the opportunity for you! Harris Lake County Park is an ecoEXPLORE HotSpot, which means it’s a place where you can make observations of plants and animals and share them with scientists! We'll be offering a quarterly opportunity to explore the park with our staff in search of a certain taxon, or group, of animals or plants. We will add our findings to the park's Natural Resources Inventory Database, which records our wildlife diversity, so we need you, citizen scientists!

Citizen Science Thursday: Harris Lake ecoEXPLORERS
Thursday, Aug. 15, 2–3:30 p.m.

Our focus for today's program will be on insects! Come learn about the many insect species you can find in the park and help us search for bees, butterflies, beetles, and more! If you are new to ecoEXPLORE, please create a profile at ecoexplore.net prior to the program. Meet at the Cypress Shelter and bring your device for taking photos and capturing data. For ages 10 and up, must be registered with an adult. Space is limited!

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 children/teens, many of which are eligible for NC Environmental Education Certification or CEU credits.

The Buzz on Native Bees
Friday, June 21, 10–11 a.m.

June is National Pollinator Month! Join us in celebrating the bees that play a vital role in our ecosystems, economies, and agriculture. North Carolina is home to over 560 different species of bees. Some form colonies while others are solitary, nesting in the ground, wood, or pithy stems. Learn to identify the most common groups of bees in NC, their nesting habits, and the valuable pollination services they provide. We’ll discuss the environmental conditions bees need to thrive and discover simple ways humans can positively influence bee populations at home. Space is very limited! For ages 10 and up. Meet at the picnic tables in the Educational Garden. 

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.