Exploring the New Trails at Horton Grove

December 4, 2014


This fall, Triangle Land Conservancy staff stepped out of the office for a few hours on an afternoon adventure in preparation for an upcoming special event at Horton Grove. Our first stop, however, was Pompieri Pizza in downtown Durham, a restaurant making just about everything from scratch and mostly from locally-sourced ingredients.


Owner Seth Gross, who also started Bull City Burger and Brewery, kindly spent a few minutes talking to us about his back-to-scratch and farm-to-fork approach with his restaurants. Gross, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with more than 25 years of restaurant experience explained that he sources locally to get the freshest ingredients and to support area family farms. We greatly enjoyed a selection of their handmade and wood-fired pizzas washed down by their unique fizzy drinks.

Quickly developing a case of the afternoon sleepies following this feast, we hit the road and traveled the short distance to TLC’s largest public property, Horton Grove Nature Preserve. Staff and volunteers have been working hard to complete three miles of new trails at the preserve, routes which necessitated the building of several new bridges to cross streams. We hiked through the mature forests, taking delight in both the color and crunch of the leaves as well as the rather unbelievably beautiful weather that day. The new trails, perfect for walking off our lunch-induced comas, would make a great outing for both adventurous trail runners and those individuals and families seeking a more casual walk in the woods.


We also took some time to explore the trails that meander through the native plant grasslands. Just a few hundred feet from the main parking area, visitors can access a wildlife viewing platform that provides a full panorama of the ecological restoration in progress. TLC is working to restore native grasses that provide nesting and foraging habitat for a variety of bird species, as well as flowering forbs to support pollinators. Though I could have stayed all afternoon searching for birds throughout the property, we eventually decided to depart from our fun (and educational) trip and call it a week.


And now that we’ve had the chance to familiarize ourselves with Horton Grove’s new trails, it’s your turn! In order to celebrate all the hard work and resources needed to make these new trails possible, we are hosting a Trail Grand Opening celebration on SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7 from 1-4 pm (this is a change from the original date due to the likelihood of rain on Sunday). All are welcome to attend, including families and leashed dogs. We will start the event with a short program to thank everyone involved and to introduce the new trails. TLC staff will then lead guided hikes throughout the property or you can feel free to explore the preserve on your own. The hike options are:

Starting at 1:30 pm from the main parking area:

  • Option 1: the Holman Loop through the restored grasslands and a little bit in the forest (0.8 miles)
  • Option 2: The Peaks Loop through the forest (0.9 miles)

Starting at 2 pm from the main parking area:

  • Option 1: A ~3 mile hike starting on the Holman Trail, south to the Hart Trail, around the Justice Loop and back up the Hart and Holman trails to the main parking area
  • Option 2 (new trails!): A ~4 mile hike starting on the Peaks trail, south to the Walker Trail, south to the Jordan Trail which leads to the Great Barn. Options back – the road or back up the Jordan Trail to the Walker Trail

Why not complete your trip to northern Durham County with a stop at the neighboring Stagville State Historic Site? On the same day, they are hosting a free program for the public “Christmas at the Big House, Christmas at the Quarters,” from 12-4pm.

Need more convincing? Check out this album of photos taken during out staff trip to Horton Grove and make sure to share your photos of Horton Grove (and other TLC properties) with us on Facebook!

See you December 7th!

Find a TLC Nature Preserve Near You