Sandy Pines Visitor Information

Two horseback riders smiling

Preserve Hours

PEAK SEASON summer hours, from April 1 until August 31:
Monday–Sunday, 8 a.m.–Sunset

OFF-PEAK SEASON winter hours, from September 1 until March 31:
Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m.–Sunset

The preserve is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Preserve Information

Preserve Rules

Please come prepared!

There are no restroom facilities or drinking water at the preserve. Safety and enjoyment go hand in hand. The following rules are in place to ensure a safe and pleasant visit:

  1. Keep pets on a 6-foot leash.
  2. Clean up after your pets.
  3. A negative Coggins test no more than 12 months old for all horses over 6 months of age is required. Proof of equine testing certification must be carried by the horse owner at all times while the animal is within the park.
  4. Park only in designated areas.
    No parking on roadsides or outside preserve gates
  5. The following are prohibited:
    • Bikes or other wheels except for ADA use
    • Open fires
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Tobacco and vapor products
    • Hunting
    • Feeding of wildlife
    • Swimming, wading, and boating
    • Collection or release of any natural material or living organism unless otherwise designated by Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space staff
    • Amplified music
    • Littering
    • Firearms
      • This does not prohibit concealed handgun permit holders from legally carrying a concealed handgun in accordance with N.C.G.S 14-415.11
    • Overnight parking and camping
    • ATVs and other motorized vehicles

Please report unauthorized use to 911 and to Wake County Security, 919-856-7007.

Under North Carolina law, an equine activity sponsor or equine professional is not liable for an injury to or the death of a participant in equine activities resulting exclusively from the inherent risks of equine activities. Chapter 99E of the North Carolina General Statutes.

Preserve Visitation Photography Notice

Parks, Recreation and Open Space staff may take photographs or video of park patrons of all ages to demonstrate the use of our parks. Photographs may be used in print, video or digital media. Any Wake County staff taking photographs or video for this purpose will be wearing recognizable Wake County Parks uniform or other visible ID. If you do not want to be photographed or have your child photographed during your park visit, then please notify park staff.

Professional Photography in the Preserve

Are you a professional or amateur photographer interested in taking photos at Sandy Pines?

Sandy Pines Preserve is picturesque and provides the perfect setting for a variety of photography opportunities. To ensure that all park visitors have an enjoyable experience, registration is required for photo shoots.

Please see the Photography Permit Information for a complete list of rules and guidelines and how to register for a permit.

Equestrian, Hiking and Walking Trails

The preserve offers:

  • 6.5 miles of walking and equestrian trails
  • Trails through a variety of habitats: pine forests, mixed hardwood-pine forests, creeks, a pond, and many open field areas
  • Picnic areas within walking distance to parking area and along the trail
  • Benches along the trails

Equestrian-specific features:

  • Pull-through parking for trailers
  • Eye hooks to tie horses during unloading and near picnic areas
  • Gravel parking area and hoof-friendly trails on gravel screenings or dirt
  • Mounting block and benches are available to assist with mount/dismount. One mounting black is near parking lot trail entrance. Benches and additional mounting blocks are located along the trail. We hope to add more mounting blocks in the future.
  • Mounting blocks and benches are located along the trail to assist with mount/dismount (see map for locations)
  • Signs and maps at ‘horse height’ along trail
  • ‘Share the Trail’ sign to guide equestrians and hikers on best practices
  • Please note: A negative Coggins test no more than 12 months old for all horses over 6 months of age is required. Proof of equine testing certification must be carried by the horse owner at all times while the animal is within the park.

Equestrians please be advised: Skittish horses may be exposed to stimuli.

The trails at Sandy Pines Preserve are multi-use and bordered by neighboring private properties. Please be advised that skittish horses may encounter alarming stimuli while exploring our trails including, but not limited to, loud noises, hikers, dogs, and wildlife.  Please use your best judgment in determining the fit of our facilities to your horse's needs and comfort level.


Trails are marked with colors and numbers (see map for details). These markers are located on posts at each intersection of trail.

When enjoying the preserve, please keep the following in mind: HEELS YIELD TO HOOVES


Slow down or stop if you see a horse and move off the trail if needed. Call out to the rider before approaching horse from behind and ask what their horse needs.


Call out to get a walker’s or runner’s attention and politely advise what your horse needs for safe passing. Take the manure from your trailer and parking area with you.

Be mindful of manure and keep your horse moving. Avoid riding on wet areas to minimize damage and to keep trails open.

Trail Descriptions

Sandy Pines Trail (1 mile)
This wide, crushed stone screenings trail runs north to south and connects to all trails.

Longleaf Pond Trail (0.7 mile)
Enjoy a short trot to the pond where you can fish for smaller sunfish and see the Longleaf pine restoration area.

Wandering Fields East (2 miles)
This trail connects many wide-open fields as well as a large lowbush blueberry patch (not tasty like cultivars, but great for wildlife).

Wandering Pines West (1.25 miles)
Add this onto Wandering Fields for an even longer trail. It connects Loblolly pine forests and the restored Longleaf pine forests.

Easy Gait Trail (0.9 mile)
Take in a one-mile dose of nature.

Horseshoe Trail (1.6 mile)
Appreciate the towering hardwood trees along the southern portion of this longer trail.


There are a variety of fish in the pond along "Longleaf Pond Trail", including bluegill and warmouth. All NC Freshwater Fishing Regulations apply, and you can get your fishing license online from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission website, at an outdoor supply store or bait shop.

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! Click here to learn more.


The geocaches located at the preserve are hidden containers of varying sizes that have been approved by preserve staff and placed for your exploration and enjoyment. Use GPS devices to find these hidden containers and then record your find on the paper log provided in the geocache. This activity is self-guided by getting coordinates from and bringing your own GPS unit or phone.

Placing a Geocache
Geocaching on Wake County Park property is handled on a park-by-park basis. Geocaching is an accepted recreational activity at Sandy Pines Preserve, with approval prior to placement. To obtain the approval you must complete and submit a Geocache Form to

Metal Detecting and Magnet Fishing

Wake County Parks, Recreation & Open Space has a "No Collection" policy that does not allow visitors to take things (natural or manmade) from the parks. Our parks contain both historically significant structures and documented cemeteries that should not be disturbed.

Metal detectors and magnet fishing may be used to look for an item you have specifically lost, but not to "treasure hunt" in general. The Park Manager must be notified and grant permission in advance of using a metal detector or magnet fishing to search for a personal lost item.

Drones/RC Vehicles/Model

Due to the increasing use of Unmanned Aircraft, Remote Control Vehicles and Model Rockets, Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) has developed a policy to protect park resources and ensure an enjoyable experience for all park visitors. Please review the policy for additional details.