Help Plan Three New Nature Preserves

Collage with icons of tree, bicycle and squirrel, a man paddling a canoe with a black lab aboard, and two men riding horses

Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space is excited to begin planning three new nature preserves! Nature preserves are minimally developed to provide limited passive recreation opportunities, such as hiking, paddling and horseback riding, while protecting significant natural resources and/or habitats.

Wake County began acquiring open space in 2000 with the goal of protecting and conserving land and water resources for current residents and future generations. To date, the county has acquired or assisted in the acquisition of 8,486 acres.

Little River Nature Preserve

Little River Nature Preserve, from U.S. 64 to the Franklin County line, encompasses approximately 3,700 acres of wetlands, vast open fields and forested areas. Little River is envisioned as a future City of Raleigh drinking water reservoir. 

With diverse vegetation and topography, the site offers a variety of recreation and environmental education opportunities while preserving sensitive habitats and ecosystems. Activities may include mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, wildlife observation and horseback riding.  

The preserve will seek greenway connections to Zebulon, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Sandy Pines Preserve and the future Buffalo Creek Nature Preserve. Several points of access will be included to accommodate the communities surrounding the area, as well as make it easier for users to reach their favorite destination hubs. 


Buffalo Creek Nature Preserve

Buffalo Creek Nature Preserve protects just over 900 acres of blackwater cypress swamp and adjacent upland habitat along Buffalo Creek in eastern Wake County. This natural heritage blackwater cypress swamp is the only habitat of this type in Wake County and features flora and fauna more common to the coastal plain.  

The preserve represents an expansion of Robertson Millpond Preserve and serves to balance habitat protection, land management and recreational access to provide unique nature experiences for all to enjoy. Recreational opportunities may include hiking trails, accessible paths, kayak launch and rental facilities, group camping area, mountain bike trails, fishing pond, day use picnic areas, demonstration prairie, wildlife viewing platforms, nature play and learning opportunities.  

The preserve’s vision includes a carefully sited, multiuse greenway to connect the local community with a network of protected lands, including connections to Sandy Pines Preserve, the future Little River Preserve and Wendell.  

Swift Creek Nature Preserve

Swift Creek Nature Preserve lies along the Swift Creek corridor from Lake Wheeler to Lake Benson. The preserve aims to protect the corridor’s natural resources while offering the community access to nature and recreation opportunities.  

The nature preserve is wooded and includes significant wetlands, floodplain and wildlife habitat. The natural surface trails provide opportunities for hiking, walking, environmental education, birdwatching and wildlife overlooks. The preserve’s trails will complement the future Swift Creek Greenway, which is planned to connect to the Cary and Garner greenway systems as well as surrounding residential communities.  

The corridor includes over 2,800 acres of land owned by Wake County, Town of Garner, City of Raleigh and conservation easements on privately held land. 

Wake County map showing locations of county parks and preserves


If you have questions or comments on the three preserves, please email or call 919-856-6670.

Community Meetings

Thanks to everyone who joined us at our community meetings to talk about these exciting projects! If you missed them, you can review meeting materials below. Please fill out our survey at the link above.