A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Three Kid-Friendly Trails Fairy Trail • Saxapahaw Island Trail • Flytrap Trail [caption id="attachment_171218" align="alignnone" width="1140"] Sisters Tessa, 3, and Lily, 8, search for tiny fairies in miniature homes among the

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Three Kid-Friendly Trails Fairy Trail • Saxapahaw Island Trail • Flytrap Trail [caption id="attachment_171218" align="alignnone" width="1140"] Sisters Tessa, 3, and Lily, 8, search for tiny fairies in miniature homes among the

Year of the Trail: 3 Kid-Friendly Trails

Three Kid-Friendly Trails

Fairy Trail • Saxapahaw Island TrailFlytrap Trail



Sisters Tessa, 3, and Lily, 8, search for tiny fairies in miniature homes among the bright blossoms — real and otherwise — and twisting branches of Bullington Gardens. photograph by Tim Robison

Fairy Trail at Bullington Gardens
Hendersonville

Come, step onto this path, into this forest, around this bend, beyond the land of grown-ups. In this place, among the tree roots and fallen leaves, atop stumps and stones, lives a miniature world of make-believe. Open seasonally from June through August, Hendersonville’s 300-yard Fairy Trail was installed to attract families to Bullington Gardens. The trail — developed by volunteer Mary Martin in 2017 — features tiny vignettes of fairies and other fantastical creatures. Here, a fairy with a crystal ball will read your fortune from beneath a glittery purple tent. There, gnomes sit cross-legged, their palms pressed together in prayer position as they practice yoga. Everywhere, human children giggle with glee and squeal in delight. “Dad, look! I found another gnome!” one shouts. “A tea party!” a second exclaims. Often, upon returning home, families are inspired to build their own little scenes of wonder, sprinkling fairy dust and magic across the state. — Rebecca Woltz

Bullington Gardens
95 Upper Red Oak Trail
Hendersonville, NC 28792
bullingtongardens.org



Kids will love sliding through the mouth of a giant fish at Saxapahaw Island Park. Photography courtesy of Alamance County Visitors Bureau

Saxapahaw Island Trail
Saxapahaw

Take a short walk or drive over the bridge from Saxapahaw, a former mill village along the Haw River, and you’ll find a whole island that’s made for exploring with kids. An easy 1.3-mile walking loop around the island provides opportunities for swimming, splashing, or exploring along the river’s edge; spotting wildlife or picnicking in a meadow; resting in a hammock beneath shady trees; and, of course, playing: Push kids on a swing set, watch them slide out of a 45-foot-long wooden fish or ascend the spider climber, and help them put their creative side to work at the fort creation station. — Katie Schanze

Saxapahaw Island Park
5550 Church Road
Graham, NC 27253
alamance-nc.com


When a fly lands on the interior of a Venus flytrap, it tickles tiny hairs that signal the jaws to snap shut. photograph by lovleah/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Flytrap Trail at Carolina Beach State Park
Carolina Beach

Along the easy, half-mile Flytrap Trail loop at Carolina Beach State Park, winding wooden boardwalks help visitors traverse pocosin wetlands and boggy lowlands. The boardwalks aid in the hunt for our official state carnivorous plant — the Venus flytrap — plus carnivorous pitcher plants, bladderworts, butterworts, and sundews. In all the world, the Venus flytrap only grows naturally within about a 70-mile radius around Wilmington — including just 15 North Carolina counties and one county in South Carolina — and thrives in loamy soil (plentiful at Carolina Beach State Park) in which other species struggle to survive. Kids can become miniature explorers as they search for these jawed plants in the wild. — Katie Schanze

Carolina Beach State Park
1010 State Park Road
Carolina Beach, NC 28428
ncparks.gov/state-parks/carolina-beach-state-park

This story was published on Jul 11, 2023

Rebecca Woltz

Rebecca is the staff writer at Our State.

Katie Schanze

Katie Schanze is an associate editor and digital content editor at Our State.