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 harris.lake@wakegov.com 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 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.

NEW! Educational Garden Tour
Along this tour, you will learn about some of the history of the park, some of the plants in the garden, and great ways to help wildlife in your backyard.

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, Vermont, and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.

Photo of the book Dear Earth... From Your Friends in Room 5

April 9–May 1: Dear Earth... From Your Friends in Room 5, written by Erin Dealey and illustrated by Luisa Uribe

Photo of the book The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry

May 7–29: The Great Kapok Tree, written and illustrated by Lynne Cherry

*This StoryWalk® is a part of our 2022 Longleaf Celebration.

Photo of the book Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato

June 4–26: Worm Loves Worm, written by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato

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.

Terrific Trees
Wednesday, April 27, 4–4:30 p.m.

It’s almost Arbor Day, so what better time to “branch” out and increase your tree knowledge? Learn the parts of a tree, the life cycle of a tree, examine the leaves and bark of some of our more common native trees, and, of course, discover the many benefits of trees as well as some great choices for your yard.


Longleaf Forest Friends
Wednesday, May 18, 4–4:30 p.m.

*This program is part of our 2022 Longleaf Celebration!

Take a look at the animals that live in the Longleaf Forest. Reptiles, amphibians, mammals 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.

Going Batty
Wednesday, June 29, 4–4:30 p.m.

We’ll dispel some common bat myths that give bats a bad rap. You will learn 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. 

Other Program Opportunities

Family Programs

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.

Every Day is Earth Day: Recycling & Composting
Tuesday, April 12, 2–3 p.m.

Join us for a fun primer as we lead up to Earth Day and learn more about two ways that everyone can reduce their environmental impact at home: recycling and composting! We’ll play a recycling game to test your knowledge, see the ways we compost food items and natural materials at the park, and take a peek inside our “vermicompost” bin to see the worms at work.  For all ages. Meet at the picnic tables in the Educational Garden.

Morning Migration Bird Walk
Saturday, April 16, 9–10:30 a.m.

Help park staff spot migrating birds that are returning from a long winter or simply passing through on their way home. We will walk along the trails and shoreline to identify birds in different habitats of the park. Bring your own binoculars or borrow ours. For all ages. Meet at the platform in the Educational Garden.

Tumbling Longleaf Ecosystem (Virtual)
Monday, May 2, 12–1 p.m.

*This program is part of our 2022 Longleaf Celebration!

Join The Longleaf Alliance and N.C. Forest Service for a virtual game of “Tumbling Longleaf Ecosystem,” an interactive exploration of how ecosystem components depend on one another. Learn how longleaf pines, understory plants, wildlife, and good fire come together to create one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world! A Zoom program link will be sent in advance to registered participants. For all ages. 

Super Salamanders
Monday, May 2, 2–3 p.m.

Salamanders are the most secretive of all amphibians and this just makes them all the more fascinating! Join us as we learn about their interesting life cycle, see some live examples, and take a short hike to a vernal pool in search of them. Meet at the Cypress Shelter. For all ages. 

Longleaf Ramble and Wagon Tours
Saturday, May 14
Multiple Time Slots

*This mini event is part of our 2022 Longleaf Celebration!

Join us for a special mini-event as we honor all things Longleaf! Enjoy Longleaf-themed games and crafts, meet live animals, and learn why we work so hard to preserve the unique Longleaf ecosystem with interactive exhibits by The Longleaf Alliance and North Carolina Forest Service. We will also offer an optional wagon tour for registered participants through our beautiful Longleaf Restoration Area. Extend your fun by bringing a picnic lunch and spending your day at the park! Register online for the time slot that suits your schedule. Meet at the Longleaf Shelter. For all ages. 

Fishing for Beginners
Saturday, May 21, 9:30–11:30 a.m.

Participants will learn about a cherished outdoor pastime. The program will cover fishing basics such as how to prepare a rod and reel, bait a hook, cast your line, and how to handle a fish. Fish identification and common fish species that can be found in the pond will be discussed. Instruction will be followed by an opportunity to fish in the pond. Fishing poles and bait will be provided or you may bring your own. Meet at the shed at the Fishing Pond. For ages 7 and up with accompanying adult (all must register).

Fireflies: The Light Fantastic
Friday, June 24, 7–8 p.m.

Summertime means fireflies! Join us to learn about these bioluminescent beetles and maybe see some other crepuscular critters. We will dive into the life of a firefly, learn how they glow, and even play some firefly games! Meet at the Cypress Shelter. 

Bloom Hunt
Tuesday, June 28, 9:30–11 a.m.

Experience the park in a rainbow of color as we hunt for plants to add to our Natural Resources Inventory Database (NRID). Test your plant identification skills on this leisurely hike while we play Bloom Bingo. Meet at the picnic tables in the Educational Garden. 

Kids Discover Nature

Photo of young kids sitting on a blanket at a program

For ages 2–5, 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!

Kids Discover Nature: Trees, Trees, Beautiful Trees
Thursday, May 5, 11 a.m.–noon

*This program is part of our 2022 Longleaf Celebration!

Explore the wonderful world of trees, big trees and little trees, young trees and old trees! After reading the book A Tree is Nice by Janice Udry and making a tree craft, we will go for a walk to find out more about why trees are so terrific! Meet at the Cypress Shelter. For ages 2–5. Meet at the Cypress Shelter.

Kids Discover Nature: Dandelions, Stars in the Grass
Thursday, June 2, 11 a.m.–noon

Discover why dandelion flowers turn into fluffy, white tufts that blow away in the wind as we read Dandelions: Stars in the Grass by Mia Posada. We will explore the field and woods in search of flowers and seeds. You will even plant your own seeds to take home! Meet at the Cypress Shelter. For ages 2–5. Meet at the Cypress Shelter.

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.

Nature Lab: Magic Soil and Plant Powers
Wednesday, June 15, 9 a.m.–noon

Fee: $12 per child

During this drop-off program, your child will learn about the importance of soil and plants to life on Earth through crafts and fun, hands-on activities. Paint with soil, discover how pigments give plants their colors, do leaf rubbings, plant your own seeds to take home, and help us make soil using our magic bag! Please send a snack and water bottle with your child. For ages 5–10. Meet at the Cypress Shelter.  

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.