Top 10 Parks in the Triangle: The Best Public Parks in Raleigh, Cary, & Apex
The Raleigh area is known for its abundance of public parks, nature preserves, and tree lovers.
To help you find your favorite, we’ve put together this list of the Top 10 Parks in the Triangle.
In addition to our own rankings, we’ve also included a handy key to help you find a park with the exact features you’re looking for. Have a four-legged friend that you like to walk with? Want to plan a picnic and need to make sure you have access to a restroom? Are you only interested in places with lake access? The public parks in Raleigh, Cary, and Apex have all that and more!
💧: Water Access
🐕: Dog Park
🌳: Nature Trails
⚽: Athletic Fields
🍽️: Picnic Shelters
🚻: Restroom Facilities
🌱: Conservation/Education Program
10) Dorothea Dix Park 🐕🌳🍽️🚻
2105 Umstead Dr, Raleigh, NC 27603
By far one of the most popular and well-known parks in the Triangle, Raleigh’s largest city park is currently in the first phase of a massive expansion. The park is home to a plethora of different local events throughout the year and is loaded with historic architecture and lush landscapes that blend beautifully together to create a serene and welcoming atmosphere. With plans to add over 200 acres of improvements and expansions in the next 10 years, this Raleigh staple has certainly earned its place on our list.
9) MacDonald Woods Park 🌳⚽🎡🍽️🚻
1601 Seabrook Ave, Cary, NC 27511
Although it’s one of the smaller parks in the area, MacDonald Woods Park still makes it into our Top 10 for it’s humble yet alluring natural charm and convenient location. A great place to take the kids, the shaded play area backs up nicely to The Hinshaw Greenway, which connects to the pedestrian bridge that leads to the Kids Together Playground at Marla Dorrel Park. What this space lacks in amenities, it makes up for in its refreshing simplicity, which is what’s landed it a spot on our list.
8) Fred G. Bond Metro Park 💧🎣🌳⚽🎡🍽️🚻🌱
801 High House Rd, Cary, NC 27513
This 310-acre park is one of the largest municipal parks in Wake County. Designed to be like an oasis in the middle of town, this park in Cary, NC allows guests the chance to enjoy several different types of outdoor recreation while helping preserve the environment. Stop by the boathouse for some tasty treats like ice cream or sno-cones and take a stroll on the Tree ID Trail to see if you can identify some of Cary’s native trees and shrubbery.
7) Lake Johnson Park 💧🎣🌳🍽️🚻🌱
4601 Avent Ferry Rd, Raleigh, NC 27606
Lake Johnson Park in Raleigh is home to the Thomas G. Crowder Woodland Center, a community center where locals can learn more about the park, take an educational course about our environment, and gain access to 5 miles of both paved and unpaved nature trails. In the warmer months, visitors enjoy a variety of different activities and can rent a boat, check out a fishing rod, or sign up for special classes that are offered by the park. With so much to do for the entire family, it’s easy to see why this park is one of our local favorites.
6) Apex Nature Park 🐕🌳⚽🎡🍽️🚻
2600 Evans Rd, Apex, NC 27502
With over 160 acres of property, this park in Apex, NC is quite popular with local residents. The amphitheater hosts a wide variety of events throughout the year, while the dog park continues to be one of the most popular in the area all year round. The several miles of multi-use trails are home to a popular local disc golf course and feature strategically-placed environmental education stations throughout; a nice touch that helps solidify their spot on this list.
5) Durant Nature Preserve 🎣🌳🍽️🚻🌱
8305 Camp Durant Rd, Raleigh, NC 27614
What was once official ground for a local Boy Scout troop is now a nature preserve dedicated to protecting the community’s natural resources by providing access to educational opportunities and sponsoring nature-based recreational activities. While the interpretive trail of trees native to North Carolina is what earns Durant Nature Preserve a spot on our list, visitors certainly don’t want to miss the bird and butterfly gardens that are also fully accessible to the public.
4) Apex Community Park 💧🎣🌳⚽🎡🍽️🚻
1808 Lake Pine Dr, Cary, NC 27511
This 160-acre park is home to a wide variety of different features and offers a plethora of recreational activities for Apex residents to enjoy while they take in the surrounding scenes of natural beauty. With baseball fields, batting cages, soccer fields, sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, basketball courts, and plenty of playgrounds, this community park is perfect for people who like to exercise in and around nature. Complete with fishing docks, picnic shelters, and restroom facilities, Apex Community Park has everything you need to enjoy a fun day outside.
3) Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve 🌳🍽️🚻🌱
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd, Cary, NC 27518
A state-sponsored nature preserve, Hemlock Bluffs is home to a multitude of unique plant and animal species. This cornucopia of natural beauty is located in the center of Cary and serves as an important refuge to several resident species of fauna and flora. Also on park grounds is The Stevens Nature Center. This 3700 square foot facility helps preserve staff to educate visitors about the importance of natural habitats and is a big reason why it’s featured so highly on our list.
2) Lake Crabtree County Park 💧🎣🌳🍽️🚻🌱
1400 Aviation Pkwy, Morrisville, NC 27560
Lake Crabtree Park in Cary boasts a 520-acre flood-controlled lake and offers visitors the chance to partake in almost any outdoor activity their heart desires. The park maintains a boat rental facility that is open from May until September and offers canoes, kayaks, rowboats, pedal boats, and stand up paddle boards that are available to rent by the hour. Lake Crabtree County Park is packed with natural trails that are perfect for hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts. Last but certainly not least, the park also sponsors several educational gardens and programs centered around environmental education, making them another favorite of ours.
1) Carl Alwin Schenck Memorial Forest 🌳🍽️🚻🌱
5101 Reedy Creek Rd, #5667, Raleigh, NC 27607
The amazing staff at this professionally maintained forest helped it earn the #1 spot on our list thanks to their dedication in continuing to educate the local community on the beauties of forestry and nature preservation. This 245-acre forest is managed by NC State and is utilized as a teaching and research tool to help showcase the benefits of an actively managed forest.
What we absolutely love about this unique place is that visitors can walk the trails and actually see the different successional stages of a forest. If that wasn’t cool enough, visitors are also treated to a first-hand glimpse at the management practices that support the collaborative of plants and animals that call the area home. By far our favorite spot on this list, we encourage everyone to give this scenic location a visit!
Bonus: JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University 🌳🍽️🚻🌱
4415 Beryl Rd, Raleigh, NC 27606
While it’s not exactly a public park, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the nationally acclaimed arboretum on nearby NC State’s campus. Since its inception in the 70s, The JC Raulston Arboretum has served as home to over 9,000 specimens across more than 6,000 species. In these luscious gardens, visitors are treated to an up close and personal view of one of the largest and most diverse collections of horticulture in the region. In addition to weekly tours, the arboretum offers plenty of educational programs and opportunities for guests to learn about the trees, flowers, and multitude of other plants that are housed in the facility. If you grow tired of parks and nature preserves, the arboretum is a nice change of pace that still allows you to connect with the living world around us.
Don’t Let Your Yard Start To Resemble A Public Park
While it’s nice to be able to take advantage of the many parks in Apex, Cary, and Raleigh, NC, you certainly don’t want your property to start looking like one! If you have trees that need tending, Blackhawk is here to help. Contact us today and let us take care of all your tree service needs.