The fun part about having visitors from out of state is you can show them all the local gems that they can then experience for the first time. When I had a friend visiting from Virginia on a warm October weekend, I knew I had to show her one of Triangle Land Conservancy’s nature preserves.
Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve has always been one of my favorites, and so we set off down the trail as the sun began to make its afternoon descent. Though it was October, the leaves were still an iridescent green, blocking the bright sun but letting enough light through to keep us warm and comfortable. Though we shared the trail with a few other hikers, we felt like we were leaving the hustle and bustle of a busy fall weekend behind.
The trails at Swift Creek Bluffs are mostly flat, following the contours of Swift Creek. Contrary to its name, in this creek section the water flowed slowly and calmly, and in many places the unbroken surface of the creek perfectly reflected the foliage of the trees above. Though I had birded at this nature preserve with good luck last October, this time we had arrived too late in the afternoon to catch most of the bird activity. Still, the ever-mobile Tufted Titmice and Carolina Chickadees called and cajoled each other from the canopy over our heads.
Though most of the trails at the preserve are flat, the exception of course is the “Stairway to Heaven” ascension to the top of the bluff itself. As we walked the wooden steps we had excellent views of thefamous beech trees growing up the bluff, some individuals as old as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Once at the top, we perched for a while on the benches, looking out across the treetops and down towards the creek below. I felt more like a bird in that spot that anywhere I’ve ever been, as we were both under trees limbs while simultaneously looking out across canopy from those trees growing farther below. It’s definitely an impressive look-out, and I never make a visit to Swift Creek Bluffs without a five minute pause at the top.
After descending to the creek-bed once again, we followed the trails to the end before turning around. Though there is only about a mile of trail, we were in the preserve for over an hour and a half, looking around and enjoying the scenery. I would highly recommend this walk for families, as children especially will love the contrast between the bluffs and the creek edge! Want to see more photos of the Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve? Check out our Facebook album!