Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Open House at West Point

So come out to West Point this Sunday, December 11 for our annual open house.  The McCown-Mangum house is decorated in a traditional manner.  There will be hot cider and cookies at the house and we will be serving up hot hush puppies at the mill.  So come out between 1-5pm on Sunday to see the house all decorated up (drink some cider and eat cookies), go visit the mill (eat some hush puppies), and then go take a hike to burn off those calories and to see the winter beauty of the forest and Eno River. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hanging Rock State Park Trip

So coming up on December 29, 2011 we have a day trip for 10-14 year olds to Hanging Rock State Park.  This is definitely one of my favorite programs/trips.  The park is beautiful as the mountains rise up out of the piedmont.  You get great views from the peaks because there are no bigger mountains around you.  There are also a lot of waterfalls at the park.  It is amazing to see the difference the the ecology and geology of the area even though it is less than two hours from Durham.  Here are some pictures from 2009 when not only did we have a beautiful sunny day, but we also had snow on the ground...extra fun!

The first thing we did was an ascent of "Snow Mountain"


The hiking trails had some snow on them, but that was not an issue, it made the day feel like a winter wonderland.  It also gave the kids a chance to see the mountains in snow.

Here are some of the views from up by Hanging Rock itself.  There are many great locations to hike to at the park.  In 2009 we chose to go to the parks namesake.  You can see how far the view is looking back towards the piedmont.  Truly a beautiful place. 
Finally we headed to one of the many water falls in the park.
We went to Window Falls and it is quite a nice little waterfall. 

Now that you see all the fun that can be had, call us up and sign up your children to join us on this fun hike and exploration at one of North Carolina's best natural treasures.  Call 919-471-1623(opt 2) or email me  for more information or to register.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

By Boat and Land: Explore Bahama and West Point

Join us this weekend as we explore the Durham area by boat and by land. On Friday, November 18th there will be the Wonders of Lake Michie by Moonlight program from 7-9pm. We will listen for night sounds as we explore the beautifully illunminated lake. Only canoes and kayaks are allowed on this trip. Please make sure to register if you need space on a city boat. The cost is $4 for city residents and $5 for non- city residents. Let us know if you have a playmore card too. We will meet at the Lake Michie Boathouse.

Then on Sunday, November 20th from 1-3 pm is the History of Spruce Pine Lodge. Have you ever wondered if someone lived in Spruce Pine Lodge? Join us on a hike around the property, together we will explore the history of the surrounding area. We will meet in the main parking lot.

Then from 3:30-5:30pm head over to West Point on the Eno for our Tracks and Scat program. Here we will hike through the forest as we take in the beauty of nature and look for signs of animals. From footprints to burrows to scat we will search for signs of animal life in the forest. We will meet at the Environmental Education Center. Follow the blue and yellow signs to the old blacksmith shop.

NOTE: Most of our weekend programs are introductory level classes that are geared towards families and people wanting to learn about a new topic in nature. If you are looking for a high level class on any of the topics that we are presenting please contact us and we can help direct you to those programs.

Please call with any questions: 919-471-1623, option 2.

Friday, November 11, 2011

NC Bears

This weekend we have a program on black bears in North Carolina.  Of course our focus is on the Durham area, but we also will be talking about the population of black bears in North Carolina and what is happening with these animals.  The program will be on Saturday, November 12.  The program is from 10am-12pm at West Point on the Eno Park.  We will of course meet at the Environmental Education Center here at West Point.  Feel free to call 919-471-1623 (opt 2) if you have any questions. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In light of the Starry Starry Night Program ...

I saw this in the news this morning and wanted to share it with all of you:

"An asteroid the size of a city block will zip past Earth today at a distance closer than the moon, but poses no danger of hitting the planet, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says."

It will be moving at 29,000 mph. I was just telling some people at the Discovering Deer program that deer can run up to speeds of 35 mph ... that is nothing compared to the asteriod!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Constellation and Deer programs this weekend were great!

This weekend at our Discovering Deer program, we were able to see signs of deer at West Point like their footprints and scat. As we journeyed through the woods we noticed the deer tracks mainly by the muddy shores of Crooked Creek. The tracks looked a bit like thisAnd the scat, A.K.A. poop, we found looked a little like this (the one on the left side):
This picture is a comparison of the white-tailed deer and eastern cottontail (which live in NC).

On our night program, Starry Starry Night, we were able to get great views of the wanning gibbous Moon and Jupiter with 3 of its moons. Jupiter has 64 known moons, but 4 of them are massive and can be seen from Earth with a telescope or binoculars.

Here is the phase of the Earth's moon we saw:

And here is Jupiter with 3 of its massive moons:

It was a fun weekend with many sights to be seen.
Join us this Saturday, the 12th from 10am-12pm at West Point on the Eno, to learn about NC Bears. Chris will take you on hike through the forest to learn about the lives of black bears in NC.

Don't forget to check our website link on the right to see upcoming programs. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nature Programs for November 5

We have two programs this weekend.  Our first program will be a Discovering Deer class where we will walk around the park looking for evidence of deer and talking about how deer survive in an urban setting.  This program is on Saturday, November 5 from 1 - 3pm.  The program is free and you don't need to register, just come meet us at the Environmental Education Center at 1pm.  This is an all ages program. 

Deer Scat

Deer Tracks

Our other program this weekend is a constellation program.  That program is full and we cannot take any more participants.  Our next night program will be a Lake Michie by Moonlight nature program on November 18.  Contact us for more information.  Have a great weekend and hope to see you soon.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Yes it is that time of year, our Halloween family event is happening tonight.  This program is geared towards families with children in the 5-14 age range.  We will have a hayride, a spooky performance, campfire and stories, face painting, the Scrap Exchange, and we will be giving out apples and candy.  The trails will be lit up with luminaries. 
The program is free and runs from 6:00pm - 9:00pm here at West Point on the Eno Park.  Dress up and come on out, we'll be looking for you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Nature Programs we'll be running...

So we have a busy weekend ahead.  You can join us on Saturday, October 22 from 1-3pm at our Native Discoveries Program at Leigh Farm.  On this program we will learn how Native Americans and early settlers made shelter and fire.  Join us as we build our own shelter big enough to hold four people.
Also on Saturday, October 22 from 8-10pm we will have a moonlight paddle program at Lake Michie.  You must call and register for the paddle program.  We only have limited space available.  There is a fee for this program.
Please call 919-471-1623 (opt 2) for more information or to register.  Hope to see you.

Nature in Canoes Intersession Trip

There is no better way to see and experience the flora and fauna that live in our watersheds than by boat.  We took a group of 8 children out on two canoe trips to explore and learn about natural world up by Lake Michie and on the lower Eno and Flat Rivers.  The weather was perfect and the children did a great job in their boats. 
The day at Lake Michie was great, unfortunately for you we have no pictures to document it.  We saw a lot of wildlife and we got to explore and experience a mountain micro-climate on the north shore of the Flat River.  All part of a really fun day.
Fortunately we do have pictures from our day on the rivers.  It was another sunny day and we had one of our campers volunteer to be trip photographer, which is good since sometimes it is hard to take pics and lead the group.  Here are a couple of shots...

Beautiful day

Paddling along

An unidentified furry animal was in this hole

Despite the low lake levels of Falls Lake the canoeing was great.  We saw Kingfishers, Vultures, Hawks, Heron, Cardinals, Crows, and Bluebirds.  There were a couple of mysterious furry animals that we only got brief glimpses of and unfortunately we were unable to identify them.  This was a really fun day with a lot of nature all around us.  If you get a chance get out and explore some too.  You can always join us on a program.  See our link on the right.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Nature...

So we haven't forgotten about the blog, this time we are having technical issues getting pictures from the camera to the computer.  We had some great intersession trips last week.  One was up at Lake Michie and the other was on the lower Eno and Flat Rivers.  We are working hard to get the picture issue worked out so we can show you what we have been doing.  Till then enjoy these pictures from the Natural World of Durham County...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Beautiful fall weather...

So we really can't complain about the weather, 70's with clear blue skies.  This has been perfect weather for our intersession trips.  On Tuesday we went up to Lake Michie and paddle up to where the Flat River enters the lake.  This was fun, but also a bit depressing as the river is not much more than a small creek with a lot of large rocks exposed and weeds.  You can criss-cross the river bed without getting wet just by walking on all the exposed rocks.  So maybe we can complain about the weather.  We need rain, lots of steady, soaking rain.  I know that our nature is to not like rain, but with the rivers barely flowing and the resivoirs drying up, we need some rain bad.  So I guess that I can complain about the weather. 

Tomorrow we will be paddling on the lower Eno River and I guess we will see what Falls Lake is looking like right now.  The weather will be really pretty, but what we need in reality is rain.  So make sure you are conserving water and start doing some actions/activities to try and encourage rain to come our way.  We need it.  We'll post some pictures from the Eno Trip soon. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Programs this weekend at West Point!

Autumn equinox is tomorrow which is the first day of fall!

This weekend we have two programs on Saturday the 24th at West Point on the Eno Park. Both of the programs meet at the Environmental Education Center.

Critter Crawl - 10am-12pm : First we'll learn a little about the aquatic critters that live in the Newuse River watershed and their importance. Then it's time to get wet as we catch, examine, and try to identify the different aquatic life that we find.

Fall Forage - 1pm-3pm: Join us on hike through the woods by the Eno River. Explore and search for fall herbs, nutes, and berries. We will learn about the uses, past and present, of these forest plants.

If you have any questions about these programs feel free to call us at 919-471-1623, option 2 or email at

I look forward to seeing you this weekend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Intersession Nature Camp - West Point on the Eno

Finding wildlife
So next week, September 26 - 30 we will be running our half day intersession nature camp.  The camp runs from 8am - 1pm and we meet at the Environmental Education Center at West Point on the Eno Park.  The camp is for 6-12 year olds and cost $50 city residents and $60 non-city residents.  You can contact us for more information at 919-471-1623 (ext 2).  Here are some pictures from past interession camps....

Exploring Crooked Creek

Looking for tadpoles

Small friends


Finding tadpoles

Building forts

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mountain Explorations...

Well we keep plodding along, not posting regularly enough.  I was just down in Florida snorkling in the springs and enjoying St Andrews Bay by Panama City.  When you get away from the tourist areas, Florida has a lot of natural wonders. 

So Mountain Exploratations Trip.  We had a great time this year, a great camp site, and great weather.  We were camped out near Dupont State Forest.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is one of the more beautiful pieces of property that the State of North Carolina has purchased.  There are so many waterfalls, streams, and trails for all types of users here.  Our first day hiking we went up to the top of Stone Mountain, one of many Stone Mountains in the south.  The hike took us by some beautiful mushrooms and we hiked up and over and through the forest to reach the top.

Up the mountain

Once we got to the top we explored around... 

We kept trying new trails...and then we saw...

So that is the view from the top of Stone Mountain
at Dupont State Forest.  From the top we hiked
back down the mountain and went on a hike over
to Wintergreen Falls.  This was a very pretty
waterfall that had a nice pool to cool off in.  There
is nothing better than cooling off in a stream after a
long hot hike...

On the rest of the trip we went tubing on the Green River one day.  That is one of the best tubing rivers in the state.  Lots of fun, lots of waves, and a consistant flow thanks to the dam releases.  You don't have to worry about bumping every rock in the river. 

We went hiking on Looking Glass Mountain one day, very steep, but very beautiful, pics will be added for that part of the trip.  We also spent a day exploring the waterfalls in Dupont Forest.  You can see High Falls from a previous post.  We are going to keep the post coming after this.  We plan on having a busy fall, hope to see you.

High Falls, Dupont State Forest

High Falls

Looking Glass Mountain


 Here are some views from the top of Looking Glass Mountain.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Oh My...Copperhead at the Front Door!

So has it really been that long since we last posted?  Well, we were gone last week on our Mountain Explorations Trip, which was great week.  We are also done with summer camp, so put it all together and it means more office time.  More office time means we will actually post more. 

So today while walking back to the office as started down the stairs I noticed something different.  I stopped, thankfully, took a closer look and lo and behold it was a young Copperhead chilling out part way under the door frame of the park office door.  This is a first, we have lots of 5 Lined Skinks running around and sometimes other small creatures by the door, but this is the first Copperhead.  Here are some pictures.
Needless to say, I will be checking the park door a lot more carefully before I walk down.  I did try to encourage the snake to leave the door frame and go over to the garden, but it wanted to stay in that hiddy-hole I guess.  Well see how long the snake stays and hope it doesn't find it's way into the office. 

So speaking earlier about the Mountain Explorations Trip.  Here is a teaser from that post that will be coming out next week. 
Yes we were chilling by the waterfall and the kids were throwing raisins at each other.  There are a lot of beautiful places in North Carolina, but I must say Dupont State Forest was one of the best land purchases that the state of North Carolina has made.  This is an incredibly beautiful area that would be off limits to the public and unprotected if it wasn't for some hard working individuals from up in that area and the State.  Great work.  We will post more about the trip next week and we'll talk about what we have coming up. 

Hope you have had a great summer, fall is soon to come...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harness you inner wildness...

So here we are back posting again.  This is week 4 of Eno Discovery Camp.  The age group this week was 9-12 year olds.  This was a week where we had the building of the Eno River Festival structures, so there was a lot going on at the park.  This didn't put a damper on our camp though.  Game playing was a big part of this week.  Hiding and running were key components to the games.  Here are some of the campers in full game mode...
As you can see from the pictures there is a certain tree that people love to hide behind, and for some reason it keeps working year after year.  We play games such as kick the can, ghost in the graveyard, beckon, capture the flag, sock wars, along with many others. 
During this week we also got a torrential downpour.  This storm had two positive outcomes.  The first was that the river got higher and made the rapids more fun.... 


The second was the kids got to play in the rain and some of them really made the most of it...
Now I know all the adults who see this will wish they could be so carefree as to go wild like this in the rain.  Well you can.  Next time it rains in your area put on some clothes you don't mind getting wet and dirty in, go walk to your closest park and jump in the puddles and run through the rain...and make sure to harness you inner wildness.