Discover Your Outdoor Adventure in Chapel Hill & Carrboro

By: TLP's Partners

If you are a nature lover or just love being outdoors, an alfresco adventure awaits you in Chapel Hill. Amid the bustling downtown Franklin and Rosemary streets University of North Carolina’s Chapel Hill campus, and just beyond into the town of Carrboro lie gardens, hiking and biking trails, kayaking, disc golf, and more for the outdoor explorer. 

Explore the Botanical Garden  

Cane Creek Reservoir in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Credit Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau

With 1,100 acres of garden and conservation areas, winding your way through the North Carolina Botanical Garden leads to a discovery of native plants from the North Carolina mountains to the coast in the habitat gardens. Children can enjoy hands-on experiences in the Wonder Garden with digging areas and the Fairy Place. American white water lilies and American lotus lilies are at home in the water garden. There are 15 display gardens in all including a local favorite, the carnivorous plant collection–think Venus flytrap. Extend your visit with a traverse through the Piedmont Nature Trails located behind the garden. Save the date for Sculpture in the Garden, a beloved annual event where art sculptures in different mediums meld with natural landscapes, that will take place September 15 through December 8, 2024.  

From Land to Lake  

For a leisurely weekend away from the larger lakes and crowds, University Lake and Cane Creek Reservoir offer kayaking, fishing, and birdwatching. The lakes supply water to the public, so there are some restrictions such as no swimming and no boats on trailers, but the tranquility of passing the time with a fishing buddy or paddling around soaking in nature (without getting soaked by a wave runner), is worth a visit. The reservoir is open on weekends, April through October. There is a fee for lake usage, and it works on a lottery registration system which opens each Monday and Tuesday.  

Recreation and Adventure  

Pumpkin Loop Trail in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Credit Town of Chapel Hill

No biking enthusiast should miss the trails at Carolina North Forest, a 750-acre woodland and an ecological and wildlife preserve with mixed terrain. Several multipurpose trail loops can be found here, ranging from easy to moderate. Try the little creek triple loop with a combination of trails for a variety of scenery. The preserve is open from dawn until dusk daily. Not quite as extensive as Carolina North, the popular Bolin Creek Trail runs through lush greenery and provides a refreshing escape, plus it is ADA accessible from the Chapel Hill Community Center.  

Person playing disc golf at Anderson Park in Carrboro, North Carolina.
S.P. Murray Photography

If you’re passionate about disc golf, it’s worth traveling to discover new courses and discovering new towns is a plus. Show off your expertise at three courses in the area. Southern Community Park Disc Golf is located in charming Southern Village that boasts a mixture of eateries, outdoor movies, and live music on the green through the summer. Venture into the woods at UNC Disc Golf Course known for its long fairways, tight wooded shots, water, and valley shots. And over in Carrboro, Anderson Park Disc Golf Course is mostly wooded with the first tee at the park entrance near a pond. A course map is recommended. 

So, outdoor adventurers, get out your backpacks, load up the kayaks, fishing rods, and mountain bikes for some fun in the sun in Chapel Hill. Oh, and don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers along the way—but don’t get too close to those Venus flytraps. 

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