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Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve

Swift Creek Bluffs is a 23-acre nature preserve owned by Triangle Land Conservancy in Wake County in Cary.  The preserve protects 100-foot high bluffs along Swift Creek lined with old-growth beech trees.  The north-facing bluffs create a microclimate that supports flora typically found further west in the mountains.  Despite being located in the middle of suburban sprawl, sandwiched between subdivisions and a gold course, the preserve is a great place to get back to nature.  There is a little over a mile of trails, including the Stairway to Heaven, a steep set of stairs leading up to the top of the bluff.


7800 Holly Springs Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27606

GPS: 35.71753, -78.75330



The steep terrain in the preserve has protected American beech trees (Fagus grandifolia) that are more than 200 years old.  The Stairway to Heaven passes by several of these giants.


Swift Creek Bluffs is a great place to look for spring wildflowers.  The Swift Creek floodplain and steep slopes of the bluffs support a number of spring ephemerals.  Eastern spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in spring and literally blankets the forest floor with white flowers.

Another common wildflower is the common blue violet (Viola sororia).

Star chickweed (Stellaria pubera)

Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum) are very common in the preserve.

Trout lilies are so named because their mottled leaves resemble trout.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is a really pretty spring wildflower found in the preserve with orange sap that resembles blood.

Atamasco lily (Zephyranthes atamasca)


Eastern comma (Polygonia comma) is a butterfly that can be found in the preserve.

And here's a little snail we spotted along the trail.

Blog Entries:

31-Mar-2019: Wildflowers in Cary

15-Apr-2018: Wake County Wildflowers

External Links:

Triangle Land Conservancy website: https://www.triangleland.org/explore/nature-preserves/swift-creek-bluffs-nature-preserve