It’s honestly hard to say how many times we have seen photos of these iconic turtles at the Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve, and thought to ourselves, “We really have to get out there!” Well, we finally made it and we truly couldn’t have gone at a better time. While we’re sure this preserve is beautiful year-round, both the Fall colors and weather made this trip truly magical.
This preserve was created in 2006 and was Raleigh's first designated nature preserve. Encompassing 157 acres, the preserve boasts a number of features, including three short loop trails (the longest being just under a mile), a connector to the larger Mountains-to-Sea Trail, an education center (which is actually Dr. Wilkerson’s former home), a park office, a picnic shelter, and two nature play areas.
We parked by the Park Office and played in the two nature play areas first, which are by the bathrooms (open!) and picnic shelter. (Additional parking is available in another lot you will pass when you come in - try by the park office first because it is closer to everything, and, if full, go back to the other lot.) To get your photo with the iconic turtles, make sure to check out the larger nature play area to the left of the picnic shelter.
Afterward, we made our way through the grassland area to the Pond Loop where we had a gorgeous, easy stroll around the pond. The leaves were stunning and we even found a persimmon tree bursting at the seams with fruit. We stopped by the education center, which didn’t appear to be open at this time, but had some lovely flowers and very full muscadine grape vines nearby.
Our final stop was the park office to look for the park’s two resident box turtles, Ollie and Shelley. An awesome parks’ employee came out to help us find Shelley and even let Peter have one of the best experiences of his life so far - touching a turtle for the first time! (Yet another fantastic experience with Raleigh Parks staff, who we are so thankful for.) We also got to meet Cornelius the snake and read a few books inside the park office.
Have you been to the Wilkerson Nature Preserve? Let us know in the comments!
(Note: We're currently working on updating our website with our reviews. This review was originally posted on Instagram and Facebook on October 20, 2020.)