Old North Durham and Duke Park Neighborhoods
This lovely five-acre preserve along South Ellerbe Creek’s public greenway is community green space and home to a pollinator garden. Located just outside of downtown Durham, the Pearl Mill Nature Preserve is part of a corridor of wetlands and floodplain woods that surround the East Branch of the South Ellerbe Creek. Visitors can learn about native plants through interpretive signs and relax on creekside benches overlooking bluffs on the opposite bank. Pearl Mill Preserve was brought into being by the interest and dedication of residents from the nearby Trinity Park, Old North Durham, and Duke Park neighborhoods, and these residents act as stewards for the preserve to this day. When you visit during the spring or summer months, look for the lacy white blossoms of native Silky Dogwood and American Elderberry along the creek.
The Story of Pearl Mill Preserve
The original three acres for Pearl Mill Preserve were donated by the Duke Energy Corporation in 2006. In 2017, two more acres were donated to create the current five acres. The preserve is named for the former textile mill (now converted to apartments) just upstream at the headwaters of South Ellerbe Creek. The initial phases of restoration involved cutting back and removing two dominant, invasive plants: Thorny Olive and Japanese Privet. This made room for native species to flourish and opened sight lines to the creek. The coming years holds positive changes for this part of our watershed, including a large stream restoration and stabilization project, a rain garden for filtering stormwater before it reaches the creek, an enhanced pollinator habitat, and greater community access and educational opportunities.
Plan Your Visit
Opening Hours: Dawn to dusk year-round.
Address: 703 Green Street, Durham, NC 27701
Directions & Parking: This preserve is nestled between the Duke Park, Trinity Park, and Old North Durham neighborhoods. The paved South Ellerbe Creek Trail runs right through the preserve, which means that it is best accessed on foot or bike via the trail. If you choose to drive, park near where the trail crosses Green Street, on the 700 block. You will see the Pearl Mill Preserve kiosk on the north side of Green Street. Walking south from the kiosk, notice the pollinator garden on the right side of the path. Continue south a quarter mile to the future location of the South Ellerbe Stormwater Project and another mile to Durham’s city center.
Durham Public Bus:
The closest stop is #5220 on Route 1 at the corner of Duke Street and Demerius Street. Walk south one block to Green Street and then head east on Green Street. After about a block you will see the Ellerbe Creek Trail and the preserve kiosk will be on your right.
ECWA exists because people believe that it's important to cherish the treasures in our own back yard.