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Public Programs

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Christina D. Sorensen

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Parks, Recreation and Open Space

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We offer a variety of park programs for all ages – register for one today! Visit our calendar of events, view our program e-newsletter or sign up here to receive our e-newsletters to keep up with what is happening in the parks.
Important Updates
As of Jan. 1, 2019, there is no charge for all Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space public, group and outreach programs. Fees still apply for camps and shelter rentals.
As of Jan. 1, 2019, we do not accept cash on site at any Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space location. Payments can be made on site or in advance with a credit or debit card. Checks must be mailed in advance.
Scroll down or select a program series below to learn more about our offerings:
 Each person attending family programs must be registered through the online system. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Nocturnal Night with NC State
Friday, March 22 *Full, please join the waiting list!
7–9 p.m.
For all ages
Come join us for Nocturnal Night with NC State, a special educational program on the nocturnal wildlife found within Harris Lake County Park! Featuring Parks, Recreation and Tourism students from NC State, our program offers an excellent opportunity for families of all ages to experience our park the way our local wildlife sees it! We will identify signs of nocturnal wildlife on an interactive hike through the garden, play some related games and enjoy s'mores over a campfire.
Meet at the Cypress Shelter. All participants must be registered in advance.
Secretive Salamanders
Saturday, March 23 *Full, please join the waiting list!
2–3 p.m.
For all ages
Harris Lake County Park is home to several species of salamanders. Join us as we learn about these elusive amphibians and see some up close.
Meet in the Educational Garden at the picnic tables. All participants must be registered in advance.
Exploring the Pond
Saturday, March 30
10–11:30 a.m.
For ages 6 and up
Discover the fascinating world of pond critters as we scoop in the pond to observe who lives there up close. View some of the tiniest critters under a microscope. You won't believe your eyes!
Meet at the Cypress Shelter. This is a family program – all participants must be registered in advance.
The Science of Fire - NC Science Festival   science festival logo.png
Friday, April 5
3:30–5:30 p.m.
For ages 12 and up
Fire is an important management tool for our longleaf pine forest at Harris Lake County Park. It depends on fire to be a healthy ecosystem. We will start with a Power Point presentation at the office learning how prescribed fires are conducted, what equipment is used, fire safety and the value for wildlife. We will then travel by wagon to our longleaf area to observe a recent burn and regrowth. If conditions permit, we will conduct a demonstration burn in a small contained area. Space is limited in this program.
Meet at the Park Office (first right after you enter the park).
Kids Discover Nature: Frogs Are Fun
Monday, April 8
11 a.m.–noon
For ages 1–6
So many things come alive with song in the spring and frogs are no exception. After meeting some of these live amphibians, explore fun stations set up under the shelter. We will discover the magic of the spring peeper's song as we read Possum and the Peeper by Anne Hunter.
Meet at the Cypress Shelter.
Cell Phone Nature Photography
Saturday, April 13
2:30–3:30 p.m.
For ages 13 and up
Did you know you can take amazing pictures with your very own cell phone? Get tips and tricks on the right way to use your cell phone’s camera. There is no equipment required, just bring your cell phone! Make sure to wear your walking shoes and dress for the weather.
Meet at the Cypress Shelter.
Geocaching 101 – NC Science Festival  science festival logo.png
Friday, April 14
2–3:30 p.m.
For ages 6 and up
Geocaching is a treasure hunt where participants use GPS coordinates to track down hidden "caches." Learn what geocaching is all about and head out to find a real geocache in the park! We will provide GPS units and instruction on how to use them, but feel free to bring your own unit or smartphone with a geocache app. Register early as class size is limited.
Meet at the Cypress Shelter. This is a family program – all participants must be registered in advance.
History Hike – NC Science Festival  science festival logo.png
Saturday, April 20
2–3:30 p.m.
For all ages, but best for 6 and up
Long ago, many families lived and worked on what is now Harris Lake County Park. Harvesting crops, tending livestock and carrying out daily chores were a major part of life in this bygone era. On this one-mile hike we will discover the rich history of this land. 
Connections will be made between how land is farmed today compared to the early days.
  • Modern technology and advanced farming equipment with computer models help improve the quantity and quality of crops and raising livestock.
  • Using the ARC GIS application for data collection, mapping and record keeping as compared to landmarks of rocks, trees and other natural features.
  • You will see how they did laundry without an electric machine.
  • Using natural pollinators has gone full circle for sustainable farming practices.
One thing both farmers from long ago and those today have in common is weather; it is unpredictable and can make or break the farmers’ livelihood.
Through engaging tales gathered from interviews of past residents and listening to our OnCell audio tour using a QR code on smart phones, we will take a walk back in time.
Meet at the kiosk in the Disc Golf gravel parking lot. This is a family program – all participants must be registered in the online system.
Longleaf Festival Tony - Cone.jpg
Saturday, May 18
0 a.m.–2 p.m.
Free for all ages, and no registration required!
Please see the Longleaf Festival page for information about our 10th annual Longleaf Festival and 20th anniversary of Harris Lake County Park double celebration!


Ages: 10 and up
Time: 1:30–3 p.m.
FREE but all participants must be registered
through our online system.
 Click on a date below to register:
Help us monitor and keep our bluebird and wood duck boxes clean throughout our park; create or place additional habitat boxes and assist with other natural resource tasks. Come prepared to learn and work – dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes, bring work gloves and a water bottle.
Children ages 10–14 must have an adult registered with them.

Please print and sign the Volunteer Release and bring to the program.
This release is required for participation.
Meet at the Cypress Shelter unless told otherwise.
Check out our public programs at the American Tobacco Trail!
Go to the American Tobacco Trail programs page for details.
We would love your feedback!
Did you attend one of our programs?
Let us know how we did by completing our brief public program evaluation online. 

How to Register for Public Programs 

You can register for public programs online at your convenience and pay for them with a credit/debit card.
To register for one of our public programs, click the Harris Lake icon next to the program to be taken to the registration page on our online registration website, or use the button below to search for programs by location, age, date and more.
Internet Browser Issues?
Internet Explorer works best when registering or searching via our program calendar.
The most common registration questions are answered on our FAQ page.
If you still need further assistance after visiting that page or if you have a question about a program, please call the park office at 919-387-4342.
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Interested in a private group program? Please note that you will still need to contact park staff by phone at 919-387-4344 or by email at to schedule school field trips, birthday parties and other group programs.
As of Jan. 1, 2019, we will no longer accept cash on site at any Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space location. Payments can be made on site or in advance with a credit or debit card. Checks must be mailed in advance to
Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space,
PO Box 550, Suite 1000, Raleigh, NC 27602.
Are you unable to register online with a credit/debit card? Contact the park office at 919-387-4342 or email us at for assistance.



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Content Type: Article Page
Version: 488.0
Created at 7/5/2012 4:48 PM by Christina D. Sorensen
Last modified at 3/22/2019 4:23 PM by Christina D. Sorensen


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