Parker Preserve Now Open!

A walking trail in the woods


Walking trails winding through oak-hickory forests. An open meadow dotted with towering oaks (and benches for enjoying them). A path down to Mason Farm Biological Reserve with parking you don’t have to cross a ford to reach. All within 10 minutes of downtown Chapel Hill.

We’re thrilled to announce that the Parker Preserve, a 127-acre property that borders Mason Farm Biological Reserve, is now open to the public.

Large oak trees in autumn in the historic Parker Meadow in southern Chapel Hill
Parker Meadow

Bill and Athena Parker donated their land to UNC in 1976. They were passionate about conservation and wanted people to have access to their property’s natural beauty. It’s been decades in the making, and we’re finally able to offer public access to this incredible tract of land thanks to the support of many local organizations and individuals.

The Clean Water Management Trust Fund, UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation, New Hope Audubon Society, Orange County, Town of Chapel Hill, and many private donors helped us purchase an adjoining 13-acre parcel of land owned by the Shirley G. Cochrane Trust on Parker Road this July.

Adding the Cochrane property to the Parker Preserve not only allows public access to the Preserve — it protects an exceptional mature hardwood forest and connects to existing natural areas.

Come explore!


Google Maps Directions

Parker Preserve begins at the end of Parker Road, which turns off of Mt Carmel Church Road in southern Chapel Hill. The approximate address of the parking lot is 265 Parker Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517.


Mason Farm Trail: This rugged trail drops 270 feet over the one-mile trek down to Mason Farm Biological Reserve, where it connects to the two-mile Old Farm Trail around the Reserve (and to the Mason Farm visitor parking lot).

Woodland Trail: A new 3/4 mile trail that passes through Parker Meadow and traverses the hills and valleys of the Parker Preserve. It meets the Mason Farm Trail about halfway down to Mason Farm Biological Reserve.

Parker Meadow: The former site of a 19th century log cabin, destroyed by fire in the 1980s, where the Parkers and previous owners lived.

Old Farm Trail: A flat, nearly two-mile loop through Mason Farm Biological Reserve, a 367-acre natural area made up of wetlands, former agricultural fields, and ancient woodlands.

Rules and Regulations

Hours: Open dawn to dusk, every day.

Trail Use: Foot traffic only. No bikes, horseback riding, or motorized vehicles.

Pets: Pets on leash are welcome inside the Parker Preserve but aren’t allowed within Mason Farm Biological Reserve. If you plan to walk down to Mason Farm, please leave pets at home!