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, here is a short 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. 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)

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.

This month's selection is "Hear Your Heart," by Paul Showers, illustrated by Holly Keller. It is available from February 13–28.

Virtual Public Programs

Wild Wednesday Program Series

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.

Winter Wildlife
February 24, 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! Zoom link will be provided in confirmation email.

Go Green For Frogs and Toads
March 17, 11–11:30 a.m.

It’s always good to “go green," not only for St. Patrick’s Day, but also for the environment and especially for our frog and toad friends! Learn about frog and toad life cycles, discover more about some of the species that call the park home, including their calls (early spring is the best time to become familiar with them!), and virtually “meet” some live examples! Zoom link will be provided in confirmation email.

Reptile Round Up
March 31, 2–2:30 p.m.

Learn about some common reptile inhabitants of the Piedmont, why reptiles are an important part of the environment, plus some unique characteristics our reptile friends have. Participants will get a chance to meet some live reptiles, and ask a few questions of their own. Zoom link will be provided in confirmation email.

Beaks, Tweets, Feathers and Feet
April 14, 11–11:30 a.m.

Let’s learn what makes birds different from other animals. Through fun birding activities and specimen examination, we’ll identify some of our common birds by the sounds they make as well as some of the other things that make them special. We will discuss adaptations as we virtually explore habitats in search of our feathered friends. Zoom link will be provided in confirmation email.

Raptor Powers! Birds of Prey
April 28, 2–2:30 p.m.

Owls, hawks and eagles are graceful, yet powerful, birds of prey that have many special adaptations that help them to maintain their spot at the top of the food chain! Learn all about these adaptations and how to identify various raptors as we show off some of our local raptor species’ special traits. Zoom link will be provided in confirmation email.

Longleaf Forest Friends
May 12, 11–11:30 a.m.

As part of our Longleaf celebration, we'll take a look at the animals that live in the Longleaf Forest. Coyote, fox squirrels and birds of all kinds make their homes in the forest, and we will discover the ways they use this special habitat’s features for food and shelter. Zoom link will be provided in confirmation email.

Longleaf Learning with Smokey Bear
May 26, 2–2:30 p.m.

Spend some time with Smokey Bear and learn all about forest management and fire safety in this special program celebrating NC’s Longleaf Pine. Park staff will work with Smokey to answer your questions in this virtual interview session. Zoom link will be provided in confirmation email.

Fun With Ferns
June 16, 11–11:30 a.m.

Want to learn about an amazing plant that’s been around since before the dinosaurs? Ferns have been on Earth for 300 million years! We’ll discuss their adaptations for reproduction and traits for survival, as well as discover some of their edible and medicinal uses. We can even show you how to identify common ferns in our area. Zoom link will be provided in confirmation email. 

Going Batty
June 30, 2–2:30 p.m.

We’ll dispel some common bat myths that give bats a bad rap and tell you how great they are to have around! We'll talk about bat activities, virtually explore bat habitats and bat boxes, examine some examples from our nature collection, and show you how to make a fun bat craft with things you can find at home. Zoom link will be provided in confirmation email.

Other Program Opportunities

Family Programs

Photo of families on the park's wagon in the Longleaf Area learning about that ecosystem

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.

There are no on-site Family Programs at this time. Please check our Virtual Public Program offerings.

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 craft. Children must be accompanied by an adult but the adult does not register. Dress for outdoor fun!

There are no Kids Discover Nature programs 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.

There are no Kids Drop Off programs 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, and 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.

There are no Citizen Science Thursday programs available at this time. Please check back for future programs. In the meantime, see our Virtual Public Program 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.

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