Harris Lake Public Programs

Photo of staff and kids at public program

Harris Lake County Park offers programs covering nature, history and recreational topics. Public programs are open for registration to the general public.

Registration for Public Programs & Reminders

Public Program Registration & Reminders

To register for one of our public programs, click the button below the program description to be taken to the registration page on our online registration website.

Having trouble registering for a program online? Contact the park office at 919-387-4342 or email us at [email protected] for assistance.

Important Program Reminders:

  • For Family Programs, every participant must be registered online in advance.
  • "Walk ups" (those not registered online but show up) may not be able to participate in the program. Register early!
  • Pets are not permitted at programs.
  • If a program has a minimum age, children who do not meet the meet the minimum will not be allowed to participate. Children who do meet the age requirement must have a parent or guardian with them in the program. Age limits are established for safety and program content.
     

Self-Guided Activities

Geocaching

Photo of a young man who has found a hidden geocache

The hunt is on during this high-tech "treasure" hunting game, where park visitors come equipped with GPS devices in search of hidden geocaches! The geocaches located in Harris Lake County Park are hidden containers that have been approved by park staff and placed on park property for your exploration and enjoyment. Geocaches can be of varied sizes and hidden in easy to difficult-to-find places. Use GPS devices to help find these hidden containers and then record your find on the paper log provided in the geocache. Some geocaches have little items, such as toys and stickers, that you can collect and replenish as you play, so the activity can be a real "treasure hunt." This activity can be self-guided by getting coordinates from Geocaching.com and bringing your own GPS unit, or you can participate in one of our scheduled “Geocaching 101” public programs.

To learn more about geocaching, watch this short introductory video created by Park Manager Christina Hester.

Placing a Geocache
Geocaching on Wake County Park property is handled on a park-by-park basis. Please visit a specific park's website or contact them directly to learn about their geocaching policies.

Geocaching is an accepted recreational activity at Harris Lake County Park though at this time, no additional/new geocaches will be approved until further notice. The park maintains a maximum number of caches on park property. Those wishing to establish a new cache must receive approval from Harris Lake County Park prior to placing a cache. To obtain the approval you must complete and submit a Geocache Placement Request Form  to the park office. Please refer to this form for more information.

Orienteering

Photo of Harris Lake County Park orienteering course marker #1

If you love the outdoors, exploring and map reading, then orienteering is for you! Orienteering is the sport of navigating through an unfamiliar area using a map and perhaps a compass. The object is to make your way through a series of points identified on a map and return to the finish line in the shortest amount of time possible. The route of your journey is up to you.

Orienteering is sometimes called, “the art of map and compass reading.” This fun outdoor recreational activity dates back more than 100 years and uses “low-tech” tools to navigate the landscape. Often set as a timed challenge, orienteering is a fun way to exercise and build wilderness survival skills. Finding the points and markers is a sort of “treasure hunt” for participants of all ages.

Harris Lake County Park’s Orienteering course includes a short course (5 waypoints) and a long course (16 waypoints) that navigate you to different parts of the park, including wooded, field, and play areas. They are accessible at all times of the year that the park is open. You can use our Harris Lake County Park Orienteering Course brochure as a guide for getting started, as well as our printable course sheets to fill in the points as you find them. Each point has a rubbing – try to collect them all!

Orienteering Short Course (5 waypoints)

Orienteering Long Course (16 waypoints)

Group Orienteering
Group Orienteering

Mobile Tours

"Official" graphic for the Harris Lake County Park mobile tours

Take a mobile tour and see the park through a new lens!

Harris Lake County Park has three interactive cell phone tours that you can access from home or while you're at the park. You can access each tour from the hyperlink title below.

Cypress Tree Trail
Test your knowledge and learn more about some of our common trees.

Red Fox Run Interpretive Trail
Discover more about the plants and animals found at the park.

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.

Mobile tours have also been developed for other park sites and you can view them all here.

For more activities you can enjoy from the comfort of your home, visit Harris Lake From Home and find all of our Wake County Parks From Home pages at Wake Parks From Home.

Go For a StoryWalk®

The graphic for Harris Lake County Park StoryWalk®

Take a self-guided StoryWalk® at Harris Lake County Park! A StoryWalk® is a children’s book that is presented page by page along a trail or path. It combines the pleasures of reading a children's book while enjoying nature. Each month, the paved trails in our Day Use (shelter) area or the paths in and around our Educational Garden and Natural Play Area will feature a different illustrated children's book. Interactive activities are included at the bottom of each set of storybook pages to further engage your child as you make your way through the book. StoryWalk® will be available during current park hours.

The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vt., and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.

Cover of the book I (Don't) Like Snakes by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Luciano Lozano

October 2–24: I (Don't) Like Snakes by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Luciano Lozano

*In celebration of our 2021 Haunting at Harris monthlong extravaganza! This year's theme is Don't Feed Your Fears!

Virtual Public Programs

Wild Wednesday Program Series

Haunting at Harris, Don't Feed the Fears graphic with starry sky and spiders

Join us for our Virtual Wild Wednesday Program Series! Virtual public programs will be interactive, including  games, stories, activities, and/or live specimens with suggestions for further enrichment and an invitation to explore the outdoors. Zoom meeting links and other pertinent information provided upon registration.

Going Batty!
Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2–2:30 p.m.

In celebration of our 2021 Haunting at Harris event, we’ll dispel some common bat myths that give bats a bad rap and tell you how great they are to have around us as we talk about bat activities, virtually explore bat habitats, and examine some examples from our nature collection.

Beavers: Nature's Architects
Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2–2:30 p.m.

Beavers are second only to humans in their ability to alter their environment to suit their needs. They have also adapted themselves in a multitude of ways to make their lifestyle possible! Join us virtually as we learn about these adaptations and play dress up with our very own “beaver.”

Wildlife in Winter
Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2–2:30 p.m.

Have you ever wondered what happens to our wildlife during the winter? They have a variety of adaptations to help them get through the cold months. Let’s explore some of their techniques and discover the survival secrets of our winter residents!

Other Program Opportunities

Family Programs

Haunting at Harris, Don't Feed the Fears graphic with starry sky and spiders

Designed for families to enjoy together, these programs are geared toward all ages, unless a minimum age is specified. For Family Programs, all participants must be registered online in advance.

Programs will be held outside with limited participant capacity to allow for social distancing. Each family member attending must be registered in our online system.

Preregistration is required and no walk ups will be accepted. To keep participants and staff as safe as possible, we ask that you:

  • Stay home if you’re not feeling well.
  • Adhere to social distancing guidelines by sitting at designated seats and/or tables.
  • When possible, avoid sharing supplies with people from different households.
  • Alert staff immediately if you start to feel ill during programming.
     

Participants are encouraged to continue to follow the three W's – Wash your hands often, Wear a face covering, and Wait six feet apart – while participating in park programs.


In lieu of our annual, single-day Haunting at Harris event this year, we are celebrating throughout the month of October! Join us for all things spooky while overcoming your fears! Visit our event page and follow us on Facebook for exclusive online content!

Not-So-Creepy Crawlies Mini Event
Saturday, Oct. 9
Three time slots available: 11 a.m.–noon; 12:15–1:15 p.m., 1:30–2:30 p.m.

Join park staff for a variety of fun activities on the day we would have hosted our annual Haunting at Harris event! Learn more about some misunderstood critters like snakes, spiders and millipedes by meeting them up close, create a ssssensational snake craft, try your aim at our pumpkin toss board, and go on a self-guided nature bingo hike! In order to accommodate more participants, we are offering three time slots – register for the one that suits your schedule! Meet at the Longleaf Shelter.

Super Spiders
Sunday, Oct. 10, 2–3 p.m.

Spiders are not so scary when you get to know them! They have important jobs in nature. We will read a super spider story, observe some spiders up close, and look for spiders around the park. Meet at the picnic tables in the Educational Garden near the restroom building.

Geocaching 101
Sunday, Nov. 7, 2–3:30 p.m.

Geocaching is a treasure hunt where participants use GPS coordinates to track down hidden “caches.” We will learn how to use traditional GPS units and the Geocaching app (by Groundspeak) and then find real geocaches hidden in the park. Wear closed-toe, comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle. Meet at the Cypress Shelter.

*For ages 6 and up. 

Fall Wagon Rides
Sunday, Nov. 14

Two time slots available: 1–2 p.m. and 2–3 p.m.

Bring the family out for a wagon ride along the back roads of the park to enjoy the fall colors and the beauty of autumn! Staff will interpret the natural and historical features of the park along the ride. Space is limited on the wagon to allow for social distancing, so please register early! Meet at the wagon at the playground.

Night Tree and Wildlife Treat Creations
Saturday, Dec. 11, 11 a.m.–noon

As winter approaches, don’t forget the wildlife this season! We will read Night Tree by Eve Bunting and then spend time creating treats for you to take home for your backyard wildlife. Dress warm for outdoor fun in nature! Meet at the Cypress Shelter.

Wagon Ride with Santa
Sunday, Dec. 12, 2–3:30 p.m.

Harris Lake will welcome a special holiday visitor this December!  Santa will take time out of his busy schedule to join us for a cup of hot cocoa and a ride on our wagon along the back roads of the park.  Spend some special time with Santa. Photo opportunities will be provided. Prepare for chilly weather - bring a blanket to stay warm. Meet at the Loblolly Shelter.

History Hike at Harris
Sunday, Dec. 26, 1–2:30 p.m.

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. Through engaging tales gathered from interviews of past residents and our Story Map mobile tour, we will take a walk back in time on this one-mile hike. Meet at the kiosk in the Disc Golf parking lot (first gravel lot on your right after you enter the park).

Kids Discover Nature

Photo of young kids sitting on a blanket at a program

For ages 1–6, these monthly nature programs involve a story followed by outdoor exploration, a game or a craft. Children must be accompanied by an adult, but the adult does not register. Dress for outdoor fun!

No Kids Discover Nature programs are available at this time. Please check back for future programs. In the meantime, see our Virtual Public Program offerings.

Kids Drop-Off Programs

Photo of two boys using nets at one of the park ponds dipping for aquatic critters

These programs allow older children to explore nature on a higher level and are designed for them to attend on their own, without parent participation.

No Kids Drop-Off programs are available at this time. Please check back for future programs. In the meantime, see our Virtual Public Program offerings.

Citizen Science Thursday

Photo of bird nests inside one of the park's nest boxes

Volunteer your time with our monitoring and citizen science projects. Tasks will vary depending on what needs attention but may include: cleaning or repairing habitat boxes or installing new ones, monitoring our current boxes, gathering data on wildlife and plants found in the park to contribute to our Natural Resources Inventory Database, or assisting with other relevant tasks. Come prepared to learn and work as you manage our natural resources! Dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes and bring work gloves and a water bottle. All participants must have a signed Volunteer Release.

Our in-person programs are back! Programs will be held outside with limited participant capacity to allow for social distancing. Each family member attending must be registered in our online system. 

Preregistration is required and no walk ups will be accepted. In order to keep participants and staff as safe as possible, we ask that you:

  • Stay home if you’re not feeling well.
  • Adhere to social distancing guidelines by sitting at designated seats and/or tables.
  • When possible, avoid sharing supplies with people from different households.
  • Alert staff immediately if you start to feel ill during programming.
     

Participants are encouraged to continue to follow the three Ws – Wash your hands often, Wear a face covering, and Wait six feet apart – while participating in park programs.

There are no Citizen Science Thursday programs available at this time. Please check back for future offerings.

Adult & Educator Workshops

Photo of adults listening to an instructor under one of the park's picnic shelters

Harris Lake County Park periodically offers programs and workshops for adults and older teens, many of which are eligible for NC Environmental Education Certification or CEU credits.

No Adult or Educator Workshops are available at this time. Please check back for future offerings. In the meantime, see our other Public Program offerings.