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Hiking Trails

Hiking Trails at the NC Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo invites its visitors to venture down one of our many hiking trails. Please respect the Zoo rules and the privacy of adjacent land owners.

Open Year Round
Access is Free

Hours: 6:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Zoo Vehicle Gates Close at 7:30 PM

Dogs are welcome 
Dogs must be leashed (max 6ft) at all times. 
Dogs must have current rabies vaccination and not be left unattended.
Dog owners are responsible for cleaning up after pets.
Only qualified service animals are allowed inside the Zoo

Please remain on marked trails
Respect all wildlife; Do not approach or disturb any animals or plants.
The following are not permitted: Littering, Alcohol, Weapons, Camping, Fire, Horses, Bicycles, Vehicles, Smoking

Purgatory Trail Map

Handicapped Accessible Trail .2 miles long
The trail begins at the north end of the Zoo's North America Region parking lot the trail is accessible for wheelchair users with a wide, level gravel-paved path. This portion ends at a service road (please do not walk down the service road to the parking lot) before connecting to Purgatory Trail on the other side.

Purgatory Mountain .7 miles long
Purgatory Trail begins at the north end of the Handicapped-accessible Trail (see above), on the other side of the service road (please do not walk down the service road). This trail continues uphill for a mile to the top of scenic Purgatory Mountain. It is a fairly easy walk.

Middle Mountain Trail .6 miles long
This trail branches left off of Purgatory Trail and heads north along a rocky ridge, ending at the top of Middle Mountain.

Parking Lot Connector

Park Map

Parking lot connector is near the bottom of the park map linking the two parking lots.

Open April - October

Hours: 9:00 am - 5:30 pm

Parking Lot Connector .7 miles long
The parking lot connector trail connects the North America and Africa parking lots and signage is posted at either trail entrance. This trail has a stone dust surface and is an alternative way to get from North America to Africa parking lots instead of taking a shuttle bus.

Hiking Trails in Randolph County

These trails are not within the Zoo's immediate area and are accessible to the public during daylight hours unless otherwise stated. Please respect adjacent property owners when enjoying the trails.

Open Year Round

Hours: Daylight Hours
Some trails may require a reservation

Pisgah Covered Bridge .25 miles long
This trail runs along one side of the West Fork of Little River and crosses a foot bridge to return along the opposite bank.

Ridge's Mountain Preserve .8 miles long
Access to this trail is by reservation only.

To make a reservation, call 336.879.7409, Monday-Friday during working hours. There is some parking available at the gate. The trail follows the crest of the mountain. The first half of the trail is fairly level and follows an old road to a clearing. At the clearing, a short trail leads east to an upland pool. The second half of the trail is narrower, steeper and rockier. It ends just short of the southern summit. (The southern summit is private property and does not belong to the NC Zoo). Ridge's Mountain is a Nature Preserve and contains 180 acres of land.

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Aviary Bird Guide

African Pygmy Goose

Amethyst Starling

Bali Mynah

Birds in the Aviary

Blue Poison Dart Frog

Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot:

Blue-grey Tanager

Blue-winged Leafbird

Chilean Flamingo

Common Shama Thrush

Crested Coua

Crested Wood Partridge

Eclectus Parrot

Emerald Starling

Fairy Bluebird

Golden- crested Mynah

Green Woodhoopoe

Mandarin Duck

Masked Lapwing


Nicobar Pigeon

Panama Golden Poison Dart Frog

Paradise Tanager

Pekin Robin

Purple Glossy Starling

Red-capped Cardinal

Ringed Teal

Scarlet Ibis

Scarlet-faced Liocichla


Victoria-crowned Pigeon

White-faced Whistling Duck

Yellow-banded dart frog (bumblebee frog)

Yellow-rumped Cacique

Africa Bridge Art

African Gates

African Savanna

Agama Lizard

Ant Bear

Arctic Fox Art

Arctic Turns

Bald Eagle with Salmon

Ball Python

Billy Goats Gruff

Black Dog


Cattail Gate

Elephant Rubbing Tree

Elephant Tracking Game

Elephants Art

Follow the Pollen Path

French Beans


Garden Friends

Harbor Seal Sculpture

Hippo Pod

Hummingbird Garden

Lisa’s Dragonfly



Nature’s Recyclers

Ola, The Water Bearer

Ostrich Egg Interactive

Piedmont Totem

Polar Bear Art

Prairie Geyser

Preening Heron

Stalking Little Blue Heron

Stone that Stands in an Empty Sky

The Critics

Uwharrie Vision

Watani Cooling Station

White Rhino Art

Zoological Egg Rest