Wild Adventures

Guided Hikes

We are excited to introduce a new series of guided nature hikes that are designed to connect people with nature. All hikes will be led by an experienced Zoo naturalist and guide. These hikes will generally occur on the first Saturday of each month in natural areas owned by the zoo, including our local nature preserves that are not generally open to the public. Participants will learn about the plants, animals, and landscapes that make the Piedmont an interesting and unique area to explore. Hikes will cover approximately 2 miles of uneven terrain with easy to moderate difficulty. 

  • Cost: Free

  • Age Requirement: Minimum age requirement is 8 years to participate. All participants between the ages of 8-17 years must be accompanied by an adult

  • Time: 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

  • Registration: Eventbrite

Ridge’s Mountain Nature Preserve Hike

Ridge’s Mountain Nature Preserve is a biological, geological, and historical treasure that is located approximately 10 miles west of Asheboro. We’ll explore this 284-acre preserve by hiking the trail that follows the ridgeline of the mountain to the summit at 840 feet and then loops back down. We’ll pass several upland pools that provide important salamander breeding habitat and an old stone wall that is reminiscent of the site’s historical significance as part of the Great Trading Path. As we approach the summit, we’ll enter a monadnock forest that is strewn with interesting rock formations and massive boulders that are up to 50 feet tall! Ridge’s Mountain contains several rare communities that provide critical habitat for amphibians, reptiles, and songbirds.

Dates:

  • Saturday, May 7, 2022 (Registration Full)
  • Saturday, October 1, 2022 (Registration Full)

If registration is full you can join the waitlist by emailing lisa.newton@nczoo.org. Please include the hike and date of interest along with number of participants. We will contact you if space becomes available.

Purgatory Mountain Trails Hike

Join a Zoo naturalist to spend some time in Purgatory! Purgatory Mountain is adjacent to the Zoo and often considered to be the geographical center of North Carolina. This natural area supports mature forests that provide excellent habitat for wildlife, including a diversity of songbirds, salamanders, box turtles, foxes, and bobcats. We’ll hike to the top of the mountain at 935 feet and discuss the natural and cultural history of the area, including several possible explanations for how the mountain got its name. We’ll learn about the monadnock forest at the summit, see a restoration site for the endangered Schweinitz’s sunflower, and encounter a diversity of wildlife, plants, and fungi.

Dates:

  • Saturday, September 3, 2022 (Registration Full) 

If registration is full you can join the waitlist by emailing lisa.newton@nczoo.org. Please include the hike and date of interest along with number of participants. We will contact you if space becomes available.

Ward Nature Preserve Hike

Ward Nature Preserve protects 296 acres at the headwaters of Bachelor Creek, approximately 3 miles south of the Zoo. This scenic preserve features mature hardwood forest and picturesque views of the creek. This property is not generally open to the public, so this is a special opportunity to learn more about the land that the Zoo protects. We’ll follow a short trail to Bachelor Creek and then leave the trail to walk through the forest to the top of a scenic knoll and then loop back down. Our path will follow the meandering creek and offer scenic views of lush, fern-covered slopes. The mature forest on this site is brimming with a diversity of songbirds and other wildlife. Please note that most of this hike will take place through the forest and not along a developed trail. Long pants and closed-toe shoes are recommended.

Dates:

  • Saturday, July 2, 2022 (Registration Full) 
  • Saturday, November 5, 2022 (Registration Full)

If registration is full you can join the waitlist by emailing lisa.newton@nczoo.org. Please include the hike and date of interest along with number of participants. We will contact you if space becomes available.

Nichols Longleaf Pine Preserve Hike

Nichols Longleaf Pine Preserve is the largest remaining known stand of old-growth Piedmont longleaf pine in North Carolina. This 116-acre preserve is located approximately 20 miles south of Asheboro. This property is not generally open to the public, so this is a special opportunity to learn more about the land that the Zoo protects. Longleaf pine forests are rare and home to a suite of endemic species. We’ll learn about what makes this ecosystem unique and see trees that are more than 200 years old and others with the characteristic catface scars from when the trees were used for the turpentine industry. We’ll also discuss how the Zoo is managing the property using prescribed fire and other management tools to restore the longleaf pine community. Please note that most of this hike will take place through the forest and not along a developed trail. Long pants and closed-toe shoes are recommended.

Dates:

  • Saturday, August 6, 2022 (Registration Full)
  • Saturday, December 3, 2022 (Registration Full)

If registration is full you can join the waitlist by emailing lisa.newton@nczoo.org. Please include the hike and date of interest along with number of participants. We will contact you if space becomes available.

Additional Hike Info:

  • Cost is free but preregistration through Eventbrite is required for all participants
  • Registration does not include admission to the Zoo
  • Meeting location and driving directions will be provided in the registration confirmation email
  • Each hike is limited to 15 participants, with a minimum of 2 participants required
  • No pets are permitted

Paddle Programs

Join our canoeing programs to experience the North America Lake and Africa Lake within the North Carolina Zoo in a unique way.

Cost: Free, but a $20 deposit is required to hold your place, which will be fully refunded after attending program

Age Requirement: Minimum age requirement is 16 years to participate. All participants who are 16 and 17 years-old must be accompanied by an adult.

Experience Level: No prior canoeing experience is necessary. Instructions on paddling techniques and safety will be provided.

Registration: Eventbrite

North America Lake

Date: Thursday, September 22, 2022

Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Celebrate the first day of autumn on the water! We’ll canoe along the shores of the North America Lake within the Zoo to watch wildlife in a unique way. During this adventure, we’ll learn about the diversity of plant and animal life found above and below the water surface. We will likely see some of the 4 billion migratory birds traveling south for the winter, and also turtles, fish, and invertebrates. This paddle will be led by experienced Zoo naturalists and canoe guides.

If registration is full, you can join the waitlist by emailing lisa.newton@nczoo.org. Please include the program name, date, and number of participants. We will contact you if space becomes available.

Africa Lake

Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Time: 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Experience scenic Africa Lake by boat! We’ll board canoes and paddle the Africa Lake within the Zoo, while soaking up the tranquil views and watching wildlife. During this adventure, we’ll learn about the diversity of plant and animal life found above and below the water surface. We will likely see some of the last migratory birds traveling south for the winter, and also learn about resident birds, turtles, fish, and invertebrates. This paddle will be led by experienced Zoo naturalists and canoe guides.

If registration is full, you can join the waitlist by emailing lisa.newton@nczoo.org. Please include the program name, date, and number of participants. We will contact you if space becomes available.

Additional Paddle Info:

  • Canoes, paddles, and life vests will be provided. No personal boats are permitted.
  • Remember the cost is free, but a $20 deposit required. Deposit will be fully refunded after attending program. If participant does not attend program or cancels less than three days in advance, deposit will not be refunded. Full refunds will be provided if the Zoo cancels the program due to adverse weather or other circumstances.
  • Meeting location and directions will be provided in the registration confirmation email
  • Limited to 12 participants

Please Bring:

  • Shoes or sandals that can get wet (no flip-flops)
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses

Don't Bring:

  • Pets
  • Flip flops
  • Valuables
  • Alcohol or drugs