My Google search hits revealed someone looking for Marsh Creek Park, and having featured the creek, I thought we should visit the recently expanded park on New Hope Road. The name of the park derives from Marsh Creek Road, which begins just across New Hope and goes straight down to Marsh Creek. But New Hope Road is a ridge between the Crabtree and Neuse watersheds, and the waterways in the park itself- mostly out of sight without hiking – head north through a large woodlot visible from Southall Road toward the Neuse, just a mile distant.
All pictures click to enlarge
The hot new feature in the park is the skate park, which was featured in a several media articles and is quite popular. The large recreational center is fairly nondescript, but was constructed with green principles, as described in detail (along with other park amenities) at Get To Know a Park. Beside the center is a large Piedmont prairie, and the extensive parking areas are adjoined by interesting ecotone areas, though the stilt grass is spreading fast. The terrain is typical of Piedmont farmland after 50-60 years – upland pines and chestnut oaks with a slope down to loblollies, shrubs, and water.
My favorite find at Marsh Creek Park was the rain garden just below the skate park, with a wonderful stand of Joe-Pye-weed, as seen below. I’ve only seen this handsome plant in the mountains, but it is listed in the Piedmont. Somebody did a great job with this rain garden.
To make the park’s name issue a little stranger, there is a really nice marshy area below the lower field, which leads to a very pretty old farm pond. It appears to have a fishing shack on the edge. The expansion doubled the usable space of the park, but most of the acreage is still heavily wooded and ripe for exploring. Overall, a versatile park with something for everyone.
Google map of Marsh Creek Park
This section of Raleigh – the ridge of New Hope with the valley of the Neuse to the northeast and Marsh Creek’s drainage to the southwest – is of geologic interest because it is one of the transitions between the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. If you take Buffalo Road off New Hope, for example, you immediately start seeing sandy soils. Just down the road from Marsh Creek Park, Skycrest Drive heads down to good old Raleigh Swamp. Before it gets there, at the intersection with Trawick, you can find this meadow of wildflowers. It is being sorely threatened by kudzu vines. We will keep a closer eye on invasive species in our future nature travels.
The kudzu is right behind the dandelions.
An impressive array of wildflowers fronts the dandelions by a slope.
These blackberry flowers are beside Skycrest. This was in May, but this summer I picked almost ten quarts of these things! They are everywhere.
Kudzu making its way toward the wildflowers.
Kudzu go’ne eat us all!!