Yates County Mill Park in Raleigh, North Carolina is a one-of-a-kind park. As a wildlife refuge, environmental research center, and site of a historical landmark, it’s truly one of Raleigh’s treasures. The 174-acre park is located in southwest Raleigh, off Lake Wheeler Road. The park is free to enter and open every day from 8 AM – 8 PM. For Raleigh residents who want to explore nature, learn local history, and see conservation efforts in action, Yates Mill County Park has it all.
The Yates Mill
The centerpiece of the park is the Yates Mill. Established around 1756, the grain mill is the only one of 70 in Wake County that is still operable. The Yates Mill was a gathering place for rural residents of Wake County well into the early 20th century. Throughout its history, the mill changed ownership many times, finally landing with its current owners, North Carolina State University, in 1963.
In 1989, the nonprofit group Yates Mill Associates encouraged the university and Wake County to undertake efforts to restore the mill and develop a park. After years of planning and conducting agreements, work began in 1997. Final restoration of the mill was completed in 2005, and Yates Mill County Park was officially opened to the public in 2006.
The Yates Mill is open for guided tours and corn-grinding demonstrations every year between March and November. Tours are by appointment and demonstrations are only held certain days. Admittance to the park is free, as are the tours and demonstrations. The Yates Mill Associates accept donations, however, to maintain the mill.
The Visitor Center
The Yates Mill County Park in Raleigh also features a visitor center, the A.E. Finley Center for Education and Research. The visitor center includes resources about the park and the mill in its vast exhibit hall. The center is a great place to learn about the Yates Mill and the history of the county.
Hiking, Fishing, and Recreation
The Yates Mill County Park includes three hiking trails, each at different difficulty levels. The trails are a great chance for hikers to explore the natural environment of the park, with trailside stations and exhibits. In addition to hiking, fishing is also allowed on the Pond Boardwalk.
Yates Mill County Park also has several picnic tables and other facilities set up for recreational use. The park is well-maintained thanks to the partnership between Wake County and NC State University, so visitors can enjoy its many amenities. For Raleigh’s nature-lovers, who want a relaxing escape, Yates Mill County Park is the place to go.
Public Programs at the Park
The park holds several public and group programs throughout the year. They host summer camps for kids, Discovery Tables at the Finley Center for all ages to learn about science and nature, Natural Exploration hikes and outdoor events, as well as showcases of Historic Trades, to coincide with corn-grinding demonstrations.
Whether you’re heading to a tour of the Yates Mill, one of the park’s many scheduled events, or just want to get some fresh air, the Yates Mill County Park has plenty to explore for Raleigh residents.