Hiking Challenge

TLC nature preserves are still open! Stay 6 feet apart, take all trash with you, and avoid overcrowding the parking lots.

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What is the TLC Hiking Challenge?

Badge with Tree and Triangle Land Conservancy - Hiking ChallengeExplore new places, challenge yourself, and win fun prizes by participating in TLC’s Hiking Challenge. Anyone can enroll in the Hiking Challenge, regardless of if you are a current TLC member. It consists of completing six hikes at six public TLC preserves, with the option of replacing one hike with any outdoor TLC event. You have one year from the date you enroll to conquer the challenge — finish three hikes and receive the badge pictured here; complete all six requirements to be listed on our Hiking Challenge Wall of Fame and win more prizes! Participants who are nonmembers when they finish the Challenge will receive a year’s TLC membership while current members will get a TLC prize pack, including goodies like a TLC water bottle, TLC canvas bag, and a $25 gift card to the Great Outdoor Provision Company!

Share photos of your Hiking Challenge on social media — use the hashtag #HikeTLC on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

Hiking Challenge Rules:

  1. Before beginning, please read the rules and hiking challenge safety guidelines.
  2. Anyone can participate in the Hiking Challenge; prizes will be awarded based on membership status at the time of completion.
  3. Participants may either complete hikes at six different TLC preserves or replace one hike with a TLC outdoor event at any preserve. Hikes completed as a part of TLC events can be logged as hikes for the Hiking Challenge. You may also use one of our virtual opportunities such as viewing a recording from our Conservation Conversations Series or our most recent Wild Ideas for Wildflowers!
  4. You must complete the Hiking Challenge within one year of the date of enrollment. Hikes must be logged within one week of completion. Hikes completed before enrollment are not eligible and cannot be counted towards those required for the program.
  5. Hikes may be completed alone or with a group.
  6. Hikes must be logged on the TLC Hiking Challenge website. When logging your hike on the website, you have the option to either write a sentence describing your hike or to post a photo of yourself on your hike on social media, or email the photos to [email protected]. For social media posts, use the hashtag #HikeTLC and mention us at @TriangleLandConservancy on Instagram or @TriangleLand on Twitter. We are also on Facebook and LinkedIn.
  7. The challenge is managed by our Education and Outreach Associate, Kayla Ebert. If you have any questions, please email her at [email protected]. Logged hikes are updated at least once per month, so there may be a short delay before hearing about your status!


Public TLC Nature Preserves with hiking trails:

Bailey and Sarah Williamson Farm & Nature Preserve

Brumley Forest Nature Preserve

Flower Hill Nature Preserve

Horton Grove Nature Preserve

Johnston Mill Nature Preserve

Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve

White Pines Nature Preserve

Logo - Hiking Project - TLC Hiking ChallengeYou can share your hikes and photos using the interactive Hiking Project app. Search for a TLC nature preserve on Hiking Project to get detailed information about the preserve and its trails, including trail length, elevation, and photos.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I do the TLC Hiking Challenge? It’s a fun way to challenge yourself, explore the Triangle, and win fun prizes! Everyone who completes three hikes will receive a one-of-a-kind TLC badge and those who complete the Hiking Challenge will receive either a TLC membership or a TLC prize pack based on current membership status.

Do I need to be a TLC member to participate? Nope. The Hiking Challenge is open to everyone, regardless of membership status. We want anyone to be able to get outside and enjoy our preserves! Complete the challenge and you’ll get to experience the benefits of membership for the next year, including discounts and special access to events. However, if you do become a member before completing the challenge you will receive the Hiking Challenge prize pack when you finish!

Is there a time limit? From the date you enroll in the Hiking Challenge, you have one year to complete it.

When can I start counting my hikes toward the Hiking Challenge? Hikes must be logged on our website within one week of completion to count toward the Hiking Challenge. Hikes completed before enrollment in the program cannot be counted or logged.

Can I bring my dog? Yes! Dogs are allowed on all of TLC’s public nature preserves. We ask that while visiting TLC’s public nature preserves you keep pets on their leash and clean up after them.

Can kids and families participate? Yes! The TLC Hiking Challenge is for people of all ages. We encourage you to complete the hikes with family or friends. Just remember that each person participating in the Challenge should register themselves on our website and log their hikes. Parents may register and complete the hike-log for their children. Also check out our incentive based Triangle Explorer Program which has a Hiking Badge for kids to earn prizes as well!

Can I hike and go to an event at the same TLC preserve and count it towards two of my six Hiking Challenge requirements? Yes! If you choose, you may replace going to one of the TLC nature preserves with attending any TLC-hosted outdoor event. This means that, for example, you may log Horton Grove Nature Preserve twice — once for a self-directed hike and again after attending a TLC event there.

If I have additional questions, who should I contact about the Hiking Challenge?  Please contact Kayla Ebert at [email protected] or 919-908-8809.

The TLC Hiking Challenge Hall of Fame

Joan Curry, Finished 5/8/2015 — “Great hike; Horton Grove has beautiful trails. [We] enjoyed seeing new growth coming in where the recent prescribed burn was done. P.S. The observation platform in the prairie is an excellent place for a picnic lunch!”

Pam Timmons, Finished 5/9/2015  — “My favorite part of this hike was the high ridge on the Old Field Bluff Trail [at Johnston Mill], overlooking Old Field Creek. The tender spring green of new leaves added a welcome touch to the expansive winter view of the bluff without obliterating it. Very beautiful. Spring migrants were singing and flowers were still in abundance.”

Jack Blackmer, Finished 10/14/2015 — “I wanted to enjoy the Catawba Rhododendrons again after not seeing them for a few years. I knew I was a bit on the late side but many were still in bloom. Flower Hill is a very special place and it is truly amazing that the Catawbas and Galax are growing here so far from their natural habitat!”

Bruce Hathaway, Finished 4/22/2016 — “Beautiful setting, well maintained trail, many wild flowers starting to bloom. Would highly recommend [Horton Grove]!”

Pam Hathaway, Finished 4/22/2016 — “The bench at the convergence of the Rocky and Deep Rivers is a great place to eat lunch. Would highly recommend this hike [at White Pines Nature Preserve].”

Virginia Stell, Finished 5/3/2016 — “I made the trip out to Flower Hill to see the rhododendrons and to complete the Hiking Challenge. It was a short, easy (except for one steep part) hike. The rhododendrons were in full bloom and I also got to see a large black snake lounging right in the middle of the trail.”

Josiah Knight, Finished 11/7/2016 — “This was a very nice surprise, a cool walk among tall trees down by the creek and up on the bluff. We saw good sized black oaks, white oaks and poplars, but the stars are the old beeches, some of them 4 feet in diameter. I’m glad to see [Swift Creek Bluffs] preserved.”

Christina Cesarz, Finished 5/7/2017 — “I went to a Piedmont Picnic Project event at Walnut Hill, and I absolutely loved the excursion. I’ve never foraged before, and I’m excited to identify plants on my next hike. The picnic at the end was unbelievable! I want the recipes to the cheese and the cake. Not to mention that the tea was phenomenal, too!…So glad TLC’s Wild Ideas led me to this experience.”

Marguerite Cox, Finished 5/21/2017 — “I hiked [Swift Creek Bluffs] by myself and it was a nice way to start the weekend after a stressful week. I really liked the Stairway to Heaven –it was challenging and offered a nice view of the creek. It was still a bit too cold for reptiles and there wasn’t a lot of green flora except the ferns and moss. Definitely recommended!”

John Hite, Finished 12/5/17 —“I love ALL of the TLC preserves!  Each one is unique and beautiful in its own way and it’s always so much fun to discover a new one with friends (and our dogs).  The trails are well laid out and maintained and easy to navigate.”

Andrea Gaietto, Finished 12/31/2017 — “We really enjoyed how secluded and off the beaten track some of the parks were. We could walk without seeing anyone which was nice! “

Manisit Das, Finished 1/27/2018 — “I really appreciate how TLC is conserving all these preserves at the heart of the Research Triangle. I took the Hiking Challenge in winter which allowed me to cherish the beauty of the pristine snow-covered preserves. I particularly enjoyed Horton Grove Nature Preserve. You get to see a lot of diversity within a short span of time, ranging from grasslands to pine and hardwood forests. It is also an excellent spot for birding.”

Gina Turrini, Finished 2/3/2018 — “My favorite part of the hiking challenge is having an excuse to get outside and go for a hike with friends and my dog and to explore trails we might not otherwise find, especially the preserves outside of Durham. Although technically I’m done with the challenge, I look forward to going back and experiencing them again this spring.

Iza Wojciechowska, Finished 4/29/2018 –“Each of the preserves I went to was wonderful, and I loved doing the challenge because it got me to visit trails and parts of the Triangle that I probably would never have gone to otherwise. I always love going to Horton Grove, which ends up being a different experience every time I visit, but the last preserve I went to was Flower Hill when the rhododendrons were in bloom, which was such a special way to finish off the challenge!”

Claudia Ziebis, Finished 5/5/2018 — “I loved hiking the nature preserves. They’re a bit of my sort of “heaven” in the Triangle. Within 30 minutes, I can feel immersed in the woods, in nature. “

Kelley Hightower, Finished 5/12/2018 — “My favorite part of hiking the TLC preserves was the serenity I found during my solo hikes. I did three of the six challenge hikes with friends or guided tours, but the three I did on my own were, by far, the most special.  It was on these solo hikes that I was best able to enjoy the beauty and diversity of our North Carolina forests. “

Collin Burks, Finished 6/17/2018–I loved going to all the preserves. It gave me a better appreciation of the variety in nature around the area. I had a really fun time introducing several friends to some of the preserves. I have felt more connected to nature and the area this year.”

Kelly Douglass, Finished 7/29/2018–I hike often, had been to a few TLC properties before, and I had planned to check out the others, but I had not prioritized it. So this challenge was the perfect jumpstart to get me going!  I am so thankful we have such wonderful places in the world (much less in my backyard!) and I’m so grateful to conservation organizations, like TLC, for all they do to conserve our precious natural wonders. Keep up the good work!”

Alex Dymond, Finished 8/4/2018–My favorite part of the Hiking Challenge was definitely how every hike was so different. Whether it was the type of trees, field versus forest or creek versus river, they were all so unique but equally beautiful. During the Hiking Challenge, I saw more deer, rabbits, and pretty birds than any other State Park in the area. I really enjoyed all of the hikes.”

Deda Band, Finished 8/28/2018–Six months ago I committed to losing weight and part of my ‘Move More, Eat Less’ strategy was walking and hiking… and I have been loving it!  I was excited to learn about the TLC Hiking Challenge patch because I am also a Girl Scout Leader and have shared the challenge with my troop and the other leaders in my area.  I look forward to hiking the trails with my Girl Scout troop this year!”

Ann Sparrow, Finished 8/9/2018

Kim Williams, Finished 8/10/2018

Charles Benton, Finished 8/20/2018

Paul Benton, Finished 8/20/2018

Marcia Edwards, Finished 9/10/2018

Karen Porter, Finished 9/3/18

Stephanie Arpey, Finished 10/1/18

Tom Eagen, Finished 11/29/18

Erin and Owen James-Crook, Finished 11/30/18

Craig Wiggins, Finished 12/16/18

Dale Fluke, Finished 1/29/19

Bill West, Finished 3/6/19

Jon Philbrick, Finished 3/20/19

Justin Paul, Finished 3/31/19

Molly Copelin, Finished 4/6/19

Jack Gross, Finished 4/6/19

Suzanne Pesta, Finished 6/3/19

Brandy Fleming, Finished 7/23/19

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