Get to Know Durham Parks: Sandy Creek Park

By: Mark Kinsey, Office Assistant

Kids love playgrounds. They’re a great way to burn off energy, stretch one’s abilities, and have fun. Since all of our playgrounds are currently closed, parents might be wondering what there is for children to do in the parks. Of course, little people don’t really need playgrounds to enjoy the outdoors. Children are natural explorers, bringing wonder and curiosity to everything they do. In the hands of a child, a rock is a building block, a stick becomes a prop, and a blade of grass is used as a whistle. In that light, all of our parks are great spaces for children to have fun during the city and state stay-at-home orders.

But if you’re looking for some parks with a variety of non-playground activities that might be fun for the young at heart, we are going to write blog posts about several options in the coming weeks. This week, let’s talk about Sandy Creek Park.

About the Park
Sandy Creek Park is largely an environmental park with educational signs peppered throughout, and that’s what many children will find enjoyable. There are wetlands in the center of the park where you can spot ducks, turtles, salamanders, and herons. A wide variety of wildlife (especially birds) has been seen in the park. Some species of birds are especially visible this time of year before the trees leaf out, and many of the early spring flowers are blooming. The webpages of local organizations have posted pictures and lists of wildlife seen in the park.

The park has an observation deck and a butterfly garden, though it’s a bit early in the season to see lots of butterflies. There are also four short trails and greenways, each with a slightly different character:

  • A lovely access path to Garrett Rd
  • A wide, paved greenway to Pickett Rd, on the left side of the wetlands
  • A nature trail encircling the rest of the wetlands, beginning and ending at two points on the greenway
  • A mountain bike and pet trail that runs up and down hills, roughly parallel to the nature trail
If you’re looking for more fun things to do in the park:
  • We’ve created a two page downloadable activity sheet to print and take with you. You can fill it out while sitting on one of the park’s benches and use it for a scavenger hunt!
  • There’s a field where you can play games with your family, fly a kite, and toss a ball or Frisbee (not toward the lake!).
  • If you miss eating out, you can stop by a restaurant on your way to the park and have a picnic. We call it “pickup-n-picnic”— an old new spin on dining out! Park shelters are closed, but there are lots of spots in the park where you can spread out a picnic blanket. The Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau has assembled a list of local restaurants that offer takeout and pickup.
  • While the parks, trails, and greenways are open, please remember the following for your safety and comfort:
  • Many parts of our parks are closed, including restrooms. For the most up-to-date list of what is open and closed, see our website.
  • Always maintain social distancing, per the city and state stay-at-home orders.
  • Consider taking sanitizing wipes with you to clean benches or other areas people might touch frequently before using them.
  • Please take all trash home with you instead of leaving it in the trash cans.
  • Dogs are allowed in city parks, as long as they remain on a leash and the owner cleans up after them.
Do you plan on visiting Sandy Creek Park sometime soon? Connect with Durham Parks and Recreation on social media and share with us your latest outdoor adventure!

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