Stillhouse Bottom Natural Area and Preserve

The Stillhouse Bottom natural area is the only undisturbed, steep, north-facing ravine left in Orange County according to the Inventory of Natural Areas and Wildlife Habitats for Orange County, NC (2004). Preservation of this site is a conservation priority for the state of North Carolina, Orange County, and the North Carolina Botanical Garden. Over 100 plant species have been identified, and the high quality of the site is demonstrated by the presence of red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, yellow-billed cuckoos, white-breasted nuthatches, ovenbirds, and scarlet tanagers, and other deep forest birds. Stream quality is likewise demonstrated by the healthy amphibian community, made up of dusky salamanders, two-lined salamanders, and green frogs.

On a larger landscape scale, Stillhouse Bottom is part of the 187-acre Morgan Creek Bluffs Natural Area and comprises the upper portion of the Jordan Lake Macrosite—a NC Natural Heritage Program designation for a large area of biodiversity significance. Stillhouse Bottom is also classified by the Orange County Lands Legacy Program and the NC Natural Heritage Program as a natural area of state significance.

The 22.6-acre Stillhouse Bottom Nature Preserve is owned by the North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation, Inc., the non-profit membership support organization of the Garden, and is a dedicated and permanently protected North Carolina Nature Preserve. The Foundation also holds conservation easements on 12 acres of contiguous private land to the south and west of the Stillhouse Bottom Nature Preserve.


Town of Chapel Hill and Orange County officials and others celebrate the addition of land to the Stillhouse Bottom Nature Preserve on January 8, 2011. Pictured left to right are Ed Harrison, Milo Pyne, Earl McKee, Sally Greene, Ken Moore, Alice Gordon, Mark Kleinschmidt, Jim Ward, and Johnny Randall.

The North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation seeks to add all available undeveloped properties to the Stillhouse Bottom Nature Preserve through land donation and purchase, and through conservation easements. The undeveloped lots and the existing Stillhouse Bottom Nature Preserve, including potential conservation easements, could ultimately total 100 acres and represent how a group of dedicated individuals can conserve, in perpetuity, a relatively large area of biodiversity significance in a rapidly developing region.

The Stillhouse Bottom Nature Preserve does not contain trails and is not open to the general public because of site sensitivity. The Botanical Garden does offer guided hikes throughout the year that are advertised in the Garden’s website and newsletter, local newspapers, and the Town of Chapel Hill’s Parks and Recreation publications.

Download a Fact Sheet [PDF] about Stillhouse Bottom Natural Area.

Updated on November 30, 2011 at 10:36:39 am.