Stadium Heights, Near Rock Quarry City Park
This urban oasis features a picnic area, a short loop trail offering great views of Ellerbe Creek, and a second trail that takes you down to the creek itself. During the hot summer months, a stroll through The Rocks will transport you to a cool, mountain-like terrain, complete with a rapidly flowing creek, rocks for climbing, and plenty of shade created by loblolly pine, river birch, southern red oak, and paw-paw trees. Here, ancient rock formations (from the Triassic Basin!) meet a young generation of caretakers — our Preserve Stewards from Pathfinder Community School. It is, in fact, the young people at Pathfinder — and their love for the creek and its surrounding land — that inspired our Preserve Stewards program.
The Story of the Rocks
The Rocks became an ECWA preserve in July 2016. Prior to that, it was owned by a local developer who built most of the houses in the area north of The Rocks. He loved the property’s rocky terrain and dreamed of one day building his own home along the creek there. When he passed away, his son sold the land to ECWA to be preserved for future generations. In 2018, the West Ellerbe Creek Trail was completed and now connects ECWA’s 17-Acre Wood to the Stadium Drive Trail and The Rocks. The trail update has moved ECWA closer to its vision of an interconnected system of preserves throughout the Ellerbe Creek Watershed.
ECWA is working to restore the native habitat of The Rocks by eradicating the invasive exotic plants that are currently trying to take hold. However, this little preserve also hosts a surprising amount of native plant diversity.
You will find many loblolly pine, river birch, southern red oak, paw paw, and many more species of trees. If you look down while you walk along the trails you will discover some beautiful herbaceous plants as well; cranefly orchids can be seen scattered throughout the preserve as well as the brilliant red flowers of the trumpet honeysuckle. Under the leaf litter in the late spring you will also find the strange red and brown jug-shaped flowers of the heartleaf plant.
Plan Your Visit
Opening Hours: Dawn to dusk year-round.
Address: 2516 Broad Street, Durham, NC 27704.
Directions: We encourage visitors to approach the Rocks by foot or bike as there are few parking options at both entrances.
From Stadium Drive Trail: The Rocks is easily accessible for our Stadium Heights neighbors, who can walk to it from their front doors! A bike rack is located next to the preserve kiosk.
From West Ellerbe Creek Trail: Use the sidewalk to go left onto Broad Street to the traffic light at the corner of Broad and Stadium Drive. Cross Broad and continue on the sidewalk for about 100 yards. You will see an open path on the right and a sign welcoming you to The Rocks. Follow the trail to find the kiosk, picnic table, and a bench that overlooks one of the most beautiful parts of Ellerbe Creek.
Parking: There is limited parking
Durham Public Bus:
The closest stop is #6562/#5806 on Route 1 at the corner of W Murray Avenue and Broad Street. Walk north on Broad Street until you cross Ellerbe Creek. You will see a large brown sign for The Rocks on the right side of the road.
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.