New boardwalk open at Mason Farm

the new boardwalk at mason farm, curving around above boggy soils

We’re thrilled to announce the completion of a 450-foot boardwalk at Mason Farm Biological Reserve that enables visitors to again travel the full 1.8-mile Old Farm Trail.

Mason Farm Biological Reserve is a 367-acre wildlife sanctuary and research site in southern Chapel Hill managed by the North Carolina Botanical Garden. It’s home to hundreds of species of native plants and animals: according to the New Hope Audubon Society, Mason Farm is “perhaps the most popular birding spot in Chapel Hill.”

Rebuilding a community treasure

trail map of mason farm and parker preserve
Map of the Mason Farm and Parker Preserve trails. The new boardwalk is located near the “Old Farm Trail” text on the map.

The new boardwalk, which raises the footpath above the swampy soils of Siler’s Bog, replaces an earlier structure destroyed by Hurricane Florence in 2018. Without a boardwalk, Siler’s Bog has been impassable: visitors have had to treat the loop trail through Mason Farm as an out-and-back hike for much of the last five years.

Contractors built the new boardwalk using pier and beam construction, which involves driving piers deep into the ground to anchor the structure. Approved for the 100-year floodplain, this technique ensures the new boardwalk is better equipped to handle floods.

Looking ahead

The Garden received some funding from FEMA after Hurricane Florence, but those funds fell $150,000 short of the full cost of design, engineering, permits, materials, and labor. In order to open the boardwalk to visitors as soon as possible, we had to dip into our rainy day fund. Please consider donating to help us cover the costs of rebuilding this special resource!

Make a gift today