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 . . .




Several creeks and streams flow through the site, along with a number of streams that appear intermittently after rainy weather. A two-mile section of New Hope Creek tumbles through the northern portion of the site. At this point in its course New Hope Creek twists through narrow valleys beneath rocky bluffs. From Whitfield Road Johnston Branch flows north to join Old Field Creek, which proceeds northeasterly to its junction with New Hope Creek near the parking area on Turkey Farm Road.



The wooded areas around New Hope Creek and its tributaries support a number of different mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Spotted and marbled salamanders breeds in pools in late winter and early spring. Over 125 species of birds have been recorded in the preserve. The steep wooded slopes and dense undergrowth attract a number of nesting birds unusual in the Piedmont, including Hooded and Kentucky Warblers, American Redstart, Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, and Yellow-throated Vireos.


At Johnston Mill Nature
Preserve you can—

  • look for wildflowers
  • listen for frogs
  • wade in a creek
  • climb on rock outcroppings
  • search for birds

Johnston Mill Nature Preserve offers something to do at every season. In the spring look for wildflowers that carpet the floodplain. Summer brings frog choruses and nesting warblers. In the fall enjoy the foliage while looking for migratory landbirds that pause here in their journey. Winter is the best time to view the stone walls, chimneys, and other remnants of human habitation.

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 Rippertonís Eagle Scout Service Project to encourage children to spend more time in the natural world.


Two trails provide access to the site. Robinís Trail, a relatively easy 1.5 mile trail, overlooks New Hope Creek which it follows from the parking area on Mt. Sinai Rd. to the one on Turkey Farm Rd., through a mixed hardwood forest dominated by beech, hickory, tulip poplar, and sweetgum. From the southernmost point of Robinís Trail, you can pick up the Bluff Trail, a 1 mile loop which gently ascends the wooded hillside to a scenic overlook on the bluff. Both trails have inter≠pretive signs, pointing out natural features, offering his≠torical background, and identifying various trees and plants.

Johnston Mill
Nature Preserve

Stretching over 296 acres in the New Hope Creek basin north of Chapel Hill, Johnston Mill Nature Preserve is part of a large area of mixed hardwood forest, which includes two sections of Duke Forest. Owned and managed by Triangle Land Conservancy, Johnston Mill Nature Preserve was formed from two tracts of land purchased in 1999 to protect natural areas along the New Hope Creek corridor. At several places within the site you can see remnants of structures built by the Johnston family who operated a grist mill on the land for 200 years beginning in the early 1700s. The preserve was opened to the public in 2001 with two trails traversing the site. With a varied terrain and habitats ranging from steeply wooded slopes and creekside thickets to mature bottomlands and open bluffs, Johnston Mill Nature Preserve is home to a wide variety of animal and plant life.

Located on Turkey Farm Road.

Parking available in one lot on Turkey Farm Road and in another lot on Mount Sinai Road.

Drinking water and restrooms are not available.

Dogs on leash permitted.

Administered by Triangle Land Conservancy.


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