Harris Lake Hours & Information

A photo of kayaks in the water at the Car Top Boat Launch

The 680-acre park is situated on a peninsula near the Shearon Harris Reservoir in New Hill and is convenient to Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina. Launch a canoe or kayak, learn about nature or history at an educational program, take your bike out on the Hog Run Mountain Bike Trail, play a round of disc golf with friends or spend a quiet afternoon fishing at Harris Lake County Park.

Park Hours

Park Ground Hours

Monday–Sunday, 8 a.m.–Sunset

Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day

Park Office Hours

No set hours

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Directions

From Raleigh/Cary/Apex:
Take U.S. Hwy. 1 South through Cary and Apex.

Take the New Hill exit (Exit 89) off U.S. 1. At the top of the ramp, turn left onto New Hill-Holleman Road, go approximately 3 miles, and the park entrance will be on your right.

From Fuquay-Varina/Holly Springs:
Off N.C. Hwy. 55, take Avent Ferry Road away from downtown Holly Springs.

Go approximately 5 miles to New Hill-Holleman Road (landmark: large white house on corner).

Take a right on New Hill-Holleman Road, cross over Harris Lake, and the park entrance will be on your left.

Park News

COVID-19 Service Update

The health and safety of our visitors and staff remain the top priorities for Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space. As Wake County follows the state’s phased approach to lift COVID-19 restrictions, we are also working to safely reopen park services.

Shelter Rentals and Park Use Agreements

Shelter rentals and other park use agreements are available.

Playgrounds

Playgrounds at parks managed by Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space are open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to maintain physical distance, wear masks or cloth face coverings, and wash or sanitize their hands often.

Park Capacity

Measures to limit the number of people allowed in the park at one time remain in place. If a gate is closed or cones are blocking the entrance, that means the park has reached capacity. Parks that are run by towns or cities may be operating differently—please reach out to them directly before visiting their parks.

The following restrictions will remain in place at Wake County parks and preserves through at least June 30:

  • Park centers are closed.
  • Park programs will be held outdoors with limited participant capacity to allow social distancing and additional safety measures.
  • Special operations, such as boat rentals, group camping and lodge rental, are not available.

 

In the meantime, be sure to check out our digital programming. It's Wake Parks from Home!

Monthly Email Newsletter

Stay up-to-date on park news, programs and events by viewing our current e-newsletter.

Public Notices and Closures

There are no public notices or closures at this time. 

Park Information

Park Rules

Safety and enjoyment go hand in hand at Harris Lake County Park. The following rules and regulations have been established to ensure a safe and pleasant visit.

  • Speed limit is 20 mph.
  • Clean up after your pets.
  • Pets must be restrained on a 6-foot leash.
  • Park only in designated areas.
  • The following are prohibited:
    • Open fires
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Tobacco and vapor products
    • Hunting
    • Feeding of wildlife
    • Swimming
    • Collection or release of any animal, plant, or mineral material
    • Amplified music
    • Littering
    • Firearms – This does not prohibit concealed handgun permit holders from legally carrying a concealed handgun, in accordance with N.C. General Statute 14-415.11.
    • Overnight parking and camping
    • ATVs and other motorized vehicles

Park Visitation Photography Notice

Parks, Recreation and Open Space staff may take photographs or video of park patrons of all ages to demonstrate the use of our parks. Photographs may be used in print, video or digital media. Any Wake County staff taking photographs or video for this purpose will be wearing recognizable Wake County Parks uniform or other visible ID. If you do not want to be photographed or have your child photographed during your park visit, then please notify park staff.

Professional Photography in the Park

Are you a professional or amateur photographer interested in taking photos at Harris Lake County Park?

Harris Lake County Park is picturesque and provides the perfect setting for a variety of photography opportunities. To ensure that all park visitors have an enjoyable experience, registration is required for photo shoots.

Please see the Photography Permit Information for a complete list of rules and guidelines and how to register for a permit.

Geocaching

Close-up photo of one of the many geocaches found at Harris Lake County Park

The hunt is on during this high-tech "treasure" hunting activity! Use GPS devices to find hidden containers within the park. This activity is self-guided by getting coordinates from Geocaching.com and bringing your own GPS unit, or to learn the basics of geocaching with a park staff, you may register for one of our scheduled "Geocaching 101" public programs

To learn more about geocaching, here is an introductory video created by Park Manager, Christina Hester: 

Watch the video here.

Placing a Geocache
Geocaching on Wake County Park property is handled on a park-by-park basis. To see if geocaching is allowed and what the approval process is for placing a cache, please visit a specific park's website or contact them directly.

Metal Detecting and Magnet Fishing

Wake County Parks, Recreation & Open Space has a "No Collection" policy that does not allow visitors to take things (natural or man-made) from the parks. Our parks contain either historically significant structures or documented cemeteries that should not be disturbed.

Metal detectors and magnet fishing may be used to look for an item you have specifically lost, but not to "treasure hunt" in general. The Park Manager must be notified and grant permission in advance of using a metal detector or magnet fishing to search for a personal lost item.

Drones/RC Vehicles/Model Rockets

The use of Unmanned Aircraft (Drones), Remote Control Vehicles, and Model Rockets is allowed subject to these regulations

Park Features

Facilities

Photo of the park restroom building showing ADA-accessible ramp
Park Restroom Building

Park Office
Located at the first right turn inside the park off the main road, this is where our staff are based. Office hours vary and depend on staff availability. Call 919-387-4342 to inquire whether the office is open.

Restrooms
Our ADA-accessible restroom building is located in the center of the Day Use area, convenient to all three picnic shelters.

Playgrounds

View of the Natural Play Area including stump jumps, tunnel, and arbor with sandbox below

Our traditional playground, renovated in 2018, is located between the Loblolly and Longleaf Shelters in the Day Use area and contains a variety of features for kids ages 2–12! The playground is unsupervised, so adult supervision is recommended.

We also have a Natural Play Area located in the Educational Garden near the restroom which features a large tunnel, a series of stump jumps, a sandbox and a lean-to made of natural materials. The goal of this area is to encourage children to use their imagination while engaging in unstructured, free play with these natural components. Bring the kids over to explore!

Open Playfield and Volleyball Court

View of the sand volleyball court and open play field

The large turfed area near the Loblolly Shelter offers a place to throw a Frisbee, fly a kite or enjoy lunch on a picnic blanket. Our sand volleyball court is available during regular park hours and cannot be reserved.

Educational Garden

Photo of the Educational Garden showing mulched paths and raised beds

Located between the restrooms and the Cypress Shelter, the Educational Garden features several small native plant beds and a pollinator meadow connected by a mulched trail for easy viewing. Enjoy a quiet moment on a bench or picnic table.

Native plants of the NC Piedmont region are featured to highlight the importance of creating habitat required for our pollinators and other native North Carolina wildlife. We hope you'll visit this garden to learn and observe, taking ideas back to create these habitats in your own yard.

Peninsula Hiking Trail

Photo of a tree with an orange blaze (marker) indicating the Peninsula Trail

The Peninsula Trail is marked with orange blazes (markers) and consists of four loops. These loops give hikers a choice of what distance to hike. The entire trail is nearly 5 miles in length and can take more than two hours to complete. You may pick up a park brochure which contains a map at the wooden informational kiosk at the start of the Peninsula Trail.

The Peninsula Trail will lead hikers along the lake shore through a variety of forest habitats, including a longleaf pine stand and mixed oak/hickory hardwoods. If you're quiet, you may catch a glimpse of a deer, turkey or a variety of waterfowl along the way.

Please remember to keep your dog on leash for their safety as well as other park visitors and wildlife.

Enhance your hike by taking a self-guided mobile phone tour! The following three trails can be accessed by your smart phone either at home or at the park. These trails are identified on the park brochure and on site by a sign at each trailhead. You can access each trail by the hyperlink title below or the QR code on the trail marker.

Red Fox Run Interpretive Trail
Discover more about the animals and plants found at Harris Lake County Park. This trail is located near the beginning of the Peninsula Trail.

Womble Interpretive History Trail
Explore life on a farm as you learn about one of the families that lived on the property before it became a park. This trail is a section off the Peninsula trail and is identified by trail signs and double orange blazes (trail markers).

Cypress Tree Trail
Test your knowledge and learn about some of the common trees found here at Harris Lake County Park. This trail starts near the Cypress shelter and is part of the trail that leads you to the amphitheater.

Hog Run Mountain Bike Trail

Photo of a visitor on a mountain bike riding on the Hog Run mountain bike trail

The Hog Run Mountain Bike Trail is named for the ditches and gullies formed many years ago on the landscape from livestock traveling back and forth from the pen to the watering hole. The trails are 10.7 miles in total length and consist of a series of loops designed for any skill level. The beginner loop is marked with blue blazes (markers) and can be accessed from the Cypress parking lot or the Hog Run parking lot. This loop is relatively flat with few obstacles. This loop is signed for one-way traffic only.

The fastest access to the intermediate loop is from the Hog Run gravel parking lot. It is marked with yellow blazes and connects to the beginner loop. This loop is designed to challenge mountain bike riders with average skills and experience.

The advanced loop is marked with red blazes and consists of an outer and inner loop. The outer consists of the East, North, West and South sections. This loop offers the longest ride and offers more challenges for skilled riders. Log jumps and more elevation changes are found along this loop. Thanks to a Recreational Trail Grant, we were able to enhance and extend some of our trail on the advanced section.

All mountain bike trail users must use ANSI- or Snell-approved safety helmets.

Trail Map and Resources
For the most up-to-date trail map including reroutes, visit mtbproject.com. By using this you will be able to see your current location on the trail system.

Catch a glimpse of our trail system through this video by one of our trail users, Jonathan Sherman.

Triangle Off Road Cyclists (TORC)
Wake County Parks enjoys a long standing partnership with Triangle Off Road Cyclists (TORC) who assist us with trail maintenance and also provide public, organized rides here at Harris and at Lake Crabtree County Park.

If you are a mountain biker interested in giving back, TORC, in coordination with park staff, organizes trail workdays at the park periodically throughout the year. To learn more about these opportunities, email our Volunteer Coordinator, Ashley Subat, at [email protected] or visit the TORC Meetup page

Know the Trail Status Before You Ride!
All trails are subject to closure during inclement weather, special events and natural recovery. For updated trail conditions, visit trianglemtb.com or contact the park office. If the trails are open or closed for several days, we do not go in each day to update TriangleMTB but the current trail status is accurately reflected on that website.

How does Harris Lake County Park staff determine the status of the mountain bike trails?
We have a scoring system for determining the status of the mountain bike trails. We evaluate 10 separate sections and assign a score to each section. The score ranges from 0 (dry) to 3 (standing water). If the total is 13 or less the trails are open. If the total is 16 or more the trails are closed. If the trails score 14 or 15 the trail status does not change. We check our trails between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to determine their status. We post this status directly to trianglemtb.com.

Why do we close the trails?
Wake County Parks' mission statement is: “To provide outdoor recreation and educational opportunities while promoting environmental and cultural stewardship through a managed system of parks and open spaces.”

We manage our trails to be good stewards of the environment here at the park.

  • Humans have a tremendous impact on their surroundings and the mountain bike trails are no exception.
  • Rains turn our trails into mud. Bike traffic in such conditions compacts and tears up the soil.
  • Another effect of keeping trails open when muddy is many users choose to ride around the muddy spots. By doing this the width of the trail is increased.
  • Riding on wet trails and riding around muddy areas accelerates the impact to the surrounding natural resources and is detrimental to plant roots, encourages erosion and renders the current trail unusable/undesirable.
     

Why would mountain bike trails remain closed after a rain event?
We want the trails to open as much as you do. There are conditions that affect the opening of our trails:

  • Our bike trails are very close to the water table. When the lake level is up, it takes much longer for our trails to dry as the soil is already saturated. Additionally, sections of our trails may be under water.
  • Low temperatures at night will freeze the water on the trails. It must thaw before it can dry and this freezing and thawing slows down or stops the drying process.
  • In winter when plants are dormant, there is less water absorption, so again the soil stays wet longer. In spring, summer and fall, the trees and other plants help to remove water from the trails.
  • When bikers ride on closed trails, it takes even longer before we can open them as the damage they cause holds water longer than it should in addition to other damage incurred. Encourage fellow bikers to stay off the trails when they are closed.
     

For us to maintain the quality of the trails, it is imperative we take responsibility for our actions and stay off the trails when they are closed. The trails, plants, water quality and bike riders that follow the rules appreciate this!

Hog Run Mountain Bike Trail – Flow Trail and Skills Area

Photo of a person on a mountain bike using the Flow Trail found on the advanced section of the Hog Run mountain bike trail

Flow Trail
Designed with a variety of rollers, berms and tabletop dirt jumps, this section of trail opened to the public on October 8, 2018. This trail is possible through a REI grant in partnership with TORC and Wake County Parks and was built by Elevated Trail Design, LLC.

Thank you to everyone involved in making this trail possible for all to enjoy!

What is a Flow Trail?
A flow trail is a mountain bike-specific trail design for riders of all abilities. It is a one-way trail and features earthen structures to limit the need to pedal or brake by creating a unique, progressive landscape.

Mountain Bike Skills Area
Our mountain bike skills area was built by staff and TORC volunteers to bring to the public an area to learn and practice techniques and skills designed for intermediate and advanced levels. The site opened to the public in June 2012. You can access the site by parking at the Hog Run gravel lot located on your first left once you enter the park.

Car Top Boat Launch

Photo of the sign showing location of the Car Top Boat Launch in the park (at the start of the Peninsula Trail)

Park visitors may launch car-top boats (canoes, kayaks, paddleboards). The launch site is located near the Peninsula trailhead and picnic area. You must unload canoes and kayaks in the parking area and haul them 150 yards to the launch site.

No watercraft with trailers or motors may be launched from inside the park. These users must use the Holleman’s Crossing or Cross Point Landing boat ramps operated by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, located in other areas of Harris Lake.

There is no designated parking for trailers. Trailers should be unhooked from the vehicle and parked in an adjacent spot.

Primitive Camp Site

Photo showing the grill pad of the Primitive Group Camp Site, featuring a grill and two chairs

This site is only offered for Guides, Scouts and like groups supported by their governing body.

This type of primitive camp site provides a unique outdoor experience that enhances and develops those camping skills learned through scouts. The goal is to leave the comforts of home behind and practice "Leave No Trace" principles, while using the bare necessities provided at this camp site. No vehicles are allowed at the camp site and all equipment is carried in – hence, the primitive camping experience.

The primitive camp site contains minimal improvements, including a fire ring and picnic tables, but no running water. Park staff will provide firewood, so no outside wood or on-site scavenging is allowed. The site has a capacity of 50 persons, including children and adults.

Advance reservation and payment is required. Contact the park office for further camp site rules and information and to reserve the site. Fee: $30 per night

Park Picks - Selfie Stations

Photo of the "Park Picks" Selfie Station sign at Harris Lake County Park located behind the restroom building

We want to see YOU in our favorite park spots! Look for the #ParkPicks sign behind the restroom building, STOP and SNAP a selfie and SHARE it with us using the hashtag #ParkPicks. We can't wait to see your selfies!

Picnic Opportunities and Shelter Reservations

Picnic Opportunities

View of the individual picnic area showing picnic tables and associated grills

In addition to our picnic shelters which are available for large groups, individual families make take advantage of our lakeside picnic area. This area has picnic tables placed in several locations, many with charcoal grills. These tables are first come, first served.

For information on the three picnic shelters which are available for rental, please see the Shelter Rentals section below.

Shelter Rentals

Photo of the Cypress Shelter at Harris Lake County Park
Shelter Reservations

For groups there are three picnic shelters available for rental. Only one shelter is reservable per day. Shelters can be reserved from 9 a.m. to park closing time. Call the park office for seasonal park closing times.

  • Longleaf Shelter $80 (100-person max capacity)
  • Loblolly Shelter $60 (50-person max capacity)
  • Cypress Shelter $60 (50-person max capacity)
     
Shelter Amenities:

Each shelter has several picnic tables, a large charcoal grill, its own horseshoe pit and a volleyball court and playground nearby. Those renting shelters can check out recreation equipment (horseshoes and volleyballs) at no extra charge (*please note that our recreation equipment is currently not available to borrow due to COVID-19). Restrooms are centrally located near the shelters and are accessible from nearby parking spaces.

Shelter Rules and Guidelines:

Reservations and Cancellation

  • Keep group sizes within the listed maximum capacity of your selected shelter.
  • Cancellations can only be made by contacting the park office.
    • Cancellation more than two weeks before the scheduled date will result in a full refund.
    • Cancellations less than two weeks before the scheduled date will not be refunded.
    • No cancellations due to weather. Staff may reschedule due to severe weather conditions.
       

Outside Materials and Activities

  • Fields, volleyball areas and playgrounds are first come, first served and cannot be reserved for exclusive use as part of a shelter reservation.
  • Park in designated areas. Do not block entrance/egress to parking lots or access to parking spaces. Parking is not reserved as part of a shelter rental without prior authorization by park staff.
  • Recreational equipment such as tents, play structures, inflatables, and pools are not permitted.
  • No water balloons, confetti, glitter, silly string or helium balloon releases. They are difficult to completely clean up and pose a hazard to wildlife.
  • No additional directional signage.
  • Do not use sidewalk chalk under the shelter or on the surrounding concrete pad.
     

Grill Use

  • Only charcoal can be used in grills. Leave charcoal in the grill when finished – staff will remove.
  • Do not pour water or liquids over coals or grill surfaces. This damages the grill coating.
  • All grills, cookers, and fryers must be used on gravel grill pads (if provided) or asphalt with approval.
  • Do not leave grills unattended. Ensure grease from grills and cookers does not drip on the ground.
     

Clean Up, Trash and Recycling

  • Leave shelter and all areas of the park free of litter. Pay attention to small items like straw wrappers, balloons, candy from pinatas, Easter eggs, etc.
  • All trash must be contained in a trash can or bagged and tied. Additional bags can be found in the trash cans or from staff in the park office if open. Do not dispose of liquids or ice in trash bags.
  • Return shelter tables to their original position.
  • Remove all tape from the tables and shelter. Do not use tacks, nails, or staples to decorate.
  • Plastic bottles, glass containers, and aluminum cans are the only items accepted in the recycling bins. No plastic cups, bags, tablecloths, utensils, etc. Do not place trash or food in the recycling bin.
  • Allow adequate time to finish your activities and clean up before the park closes.
     
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Cancellation Policy

Shelters are reserved rain or shine. Under certain circumstances, refund requests must be made in writing at least 2 weeks before the date of the facility rental. Please allow 4–6 weeks for a refund to arrive. For payments made by credit card, a refund will be credited to the credit card used during the initial transaction.

Reserve a Shelter

The registration button below directs you to our online reservation site where you may reserve and pay for a shelter with a credit/debit card.

The most common customer questions about the online system are answered in our FAQ section, but you can also contact park staff if you need any assistance.

Fishing Opportunities

Fishing Pond

Photo of a family fishing together on the dock located at the Fishing Pond

The three-acre fishing pond is stocked with Channel Catfish once a month from May to September. Different species of trout are also stocked once annually in December.

The pond also contains Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Redear Sunfish. Please follow our six catfish daily creel limit.

All North Carolina fishing regulations apply. Please refer to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission website to review these regulations.

Please also review our park rules to ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone!

Fishing Pier

Photo of the fishing pier located within the park

Our accessible fishing pier is located near the picnic area. The pier was built in cooperation with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission in June 2017. The lake is a popular spot for sport fishing, with Largemouth Bass the most sought-after species, followed by Black Crappie, Bluegill and several species of catfish.

All North Carolina fishing regulations apply. Please refer to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission website to review these regulations.

Please also review our park rules to ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone!

Tackle Loaner Program

Photo of the Tackle Loaner metal sign on the shed which contains the park's fishing supplies

Wake County Parks and Recreation offers a Fishing Tackle Loaner program in partnership with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

*Please note that due to COVID-19, the Park Office is currently closed to the public and the Tackle Loaner Program is temporarily unavailable.

Register for the program by stopping by the park office and filling out an application. Once registered, you will be able to borrow a fishing rod equipped with hook, sinker and bobber. You will have to provide your own bait, so do not forget to bring worms or other bait of your choice! Please note that our office hours vary so staff may not always be available to loan equipment. You may call us at 919-387-4342 to inquire whether staff is available.

We are also proud to provide fishing equipment for fishermen with limited mobility. We have two closed-faced, battery-powered spinning reels intended for one-handed use. Equipment is loaned out to registered participants at no cost. You can check the equipment out for the day. Contact the park office for further information on fishing equipment available for people with disabilities!

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