T h i s   W a y   t o   N a t u r e           in Chapel Hill                 @thiswaytonature.com
        Map of Sites   Adams Tract
Anderson Community Park
Battle Park
Cedar Falls Park
Homestead Park
Johnston Mill Nature Preserve
Mason Farm Biological Reserve
North Carolina Botanical Garden
Pritchard Park
Umstead Park

Explore . . .




The trees at Cedar Falls Park are typical of an upland forest in the Piedmont, with oak and hickory predominating and here and there a pine tree. Second growth trees with a brushy understory line both sides of the trails near the northern part of the park. In the steeper, less accessible portion of the site, taller trees are found. A nice assortment of wildflowers and native shrubs grow on the hillside, including native azalea. Follow the Jo Peeler Nature Trail to learn more about the native plants in the park and to view firsthand the cycle of forest regeneration set in motion by Hurricane Fran in 1996.



A short stretch of Cedar Fork Creek flows through the southwestern portion of the park. At this point in its course it is a very rocky creek, flanked on both sides by steep bluffs. From the bluff you can view the little waterfalls the stream makes as it tumbles over rocks in its downhill course. Large rock outcroppings slope down to the creek.


At Cedar Falls Park you can—

  • follow a nature trail
  • look for wildflowers
  • listen to a waterfall
  • sit on a rock outcropping
  • wade in a creek

Encourage younger children to follow the slightly sloping trails near the playground, keeping an eye out for whatever they may find along the way. The more adventurous may wish to hike the steeper trail from the top of the hill to the bottom and then back up again, stopping to admire the creek along the way. Take these hikes at different seasons to observe how the landscape changes through the year. Think about adopting a particular tree that your family watches even more closely: how it looks in winter, when its leaves first appear, how it reproduces itself, what color its leaves turn in the fall, and so on.

A Natural Area of Chapel Hill

One of 10 natural areas in the Chapel Hill area profiled by Boy Scouts of Troop 9 for Daniel Ripperton’s Eagle Scout Service Project to encourage children to spend more time in the natural world.


Cedar Falls Park

A large park in northern Chapel Hill, Cedar Falls Park attracts lots of sports enthusiasts in the warmer months with its four baseball fields and its five tennis courts. Younger children enjoy the playground in the shady woodland setting. While the flat section of the site is dedicated to structured play, the rest of the 65 acres comprise a natural area the whole family can enjoy. Hillside trails lead through brushy areas and open forest, past a bluff overlooking a creek, and over a couple of foot bridges, ending at the pedestrian entrance on Lakeshore Lane. Thanks to the efforts of Jo Peeler, this tract of land, once plowed with mules by the Jesse Johnson family to grow tobacco, cotton, sweet potatoes, and vegetables, was acquired by the Town of Chapel Hill and dedicated as a park in 1979.

Located on Weaver Dairy Road across from East Chapel Hill High School.

Parking available in parking lot.

Bus route T stops at East Chapel Hill High School.

Drinking water and restrooms seasonably available near the ball fields.

Park hours are dawn to dusk.

Dogs on leash permitted.

Bicycles permitted on trails except when trails are wet.

Administered by Town of Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department.


[PDF]   Printable Brochure



Three trails begin at the kiosk near the parking lot. Follow the yellow arrows and blazes to take the Jo Peeler Nature Trail, a .6 mile loop trail, that provides numerous interpretive signs along its course that are explained in a guide that you can pick up at the kiosk. The white trail (marked in red on map below) and blue trail share a path for part of the way. The white trail however is shorter and does not descend so far down the hill, while the blue trail descends all the way to Lakeshore Lane.