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Photo By Tony Tschopp

Ellerbe Creek tributary at Glennstone Preserve
Ellerbe Creek tributary at Glennstone Preserve

Located just 15 minutes east of downtown Durham, Glennstone Nature Preserve borders Ellerbe Creek’s floodplain, land owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and managed by NC Wildlife Resources. Through this land the preserve is connected to the downstream Falls Lake State Recreation Area. Within the 83-acre Nature Preserve, nearly 3 miles of trail connect the Glennstone Neighborhood through new growth forest, past an old cabin site, and across rocky diabase feeder streams, to one of the most attractive and wilder parts of Ellerbe Creek.

A sewer line right of way extends westward from the property to the old city landfill. This is one potential route for a future regional trail that could run along the northwest edge of the preserve connecting the preserve to the city to the west and the Mountains To Sea Trail running along Falls Lake to the east.

View Glennstone Preserve in a larger map
The Location of the Glennstone Preserve

ECWA manages the preserve to restore forest and diabase prairie remnant ecology, and provide Durham residents with a nearby, but serene getaway. Nearly all of the preserve was logged beforehand, some years ago. The plant survey showed there to be a rich variety of native wildflowers and grasses persisting in areas that have yet to become dominated by tree saplings. Red-headed woodpeckers inhabit one area with lots of snags. Glennstone is also home to our annual Memorial Day hike to one of the largest, most western heron rookeries around (at least that we know of).

Glennstone Preserve is an example of how the local government, developers, interested citizens, and land trusts can work together to protect special places. Developer Craig Morrison developed Glennstone as a "conservation subdivision," through which the majority of the developable property was set aside for conservation in return for increased density of houses within the remaining developed portion. This approach kept roads and houses away from the creek and floodplains, and the subsequent donation of the open space to ECWA provided the neighborhood and northeastern Durham with a needed nature preserve.

ECWA's long- term goal is to establish a string of preserves from the creek's headwaters near Bennett Place to its terminus at Falls Lake. Our vision is of a Durham where residents can simply walk or bike to a natural area from their home or place of business and can walk or bike across the watershed stopping at preserves, neighborhoods and points of interest along the way.